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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
Ecstasy 'damages memory'
Ecstasy
Ecstasy may have a long-term effect on the memory
Ecstasy, the illegal recreational drug popular among young nightclub goers, appears to damage the memory, researchers have found.

They found that current users and even former users of the drug perform worse in tests involving working memory than non-users.

The tests, reported in the British Journal of Psychology, were carried out by a team from Edge Hill College of Higher Education, Ormskirk.



It implies the possibility of long-term effects which may not be reversible

Dr Philip Murphy, Edge Hill College of Higher Education

The psychologists compared groups of non-users, current ecstasy users and people who had not touched the drug for at least six months.

The tests involved the 'working memory' which is concerned with common tasks such interpreting visual and audio information and understanding language.

Everyday tasks

Deficiencies in such tests typically indicate potential problems on a range of everyday tasks.

Performing under time pressure, the users and former users made significantly more mistakes than the non-users.

Researcher Dr Philip Murphy said: "The poor performance on these tasks of former ecstasy users is potentially worrying as it implies the possibility of long-term effects which may not be reversible."

Former users rated themselves as significantly more mentally alert than current users.

Dr Murphy said: "One speculative interpretation is that this may be indicative of the abnormal regeneration of nerve fibres in the brain containing serotonin, after initial damage caused by the toxic effects of ecstasy (MDMA).

"Such abnormal regeneration has been found in studies of laboratory animals given ecstasy."

Serotonin is a chemical that enables messages to be passed around the brain.

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15 Jun 99 | Health
Ecstasy causes brain damage
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