New Study Published in Addiction Shows Ecstasy Not Associated with Cognitive Decline

On February 15, 2011, the journal Addiction published online the results of a neuroscience study finding no evidence of impaired cognitive performance in users of Ecstasy, the street name for the chemical known as MDMA.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital and led by Dr. John H. Halpern, improves on earlier studies in several ways. It used subjects who used few or no other drugs or alcohol, compared those subjects to others from the same all-night dance community who had not used Ecstasy, performed complete psychiatric assessments, and utilized hair analysis and other drug testing procedures.

Since previous studies of the neurocognitive effects of Ecstasy did not address these issues, their reports of damage to memory, strategic planning, and other cognitive tasks may have been due to confounded study design rather than to Ecstasy itself.

The study was funded for five years by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and was based on pilot data collected with the assistance of MAPS.

Read the rest of MAPS’ press release for more information about the design, results, and implications of the study.