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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Ecstasy users 'face memory loss'
Ecstasy tablets
23 regular ecstasy users took part in the study
Sustained ecstasy use leads to a loss of everyday memory, according to researchers on Tyneside.

Researchers from Northumbria University compared 23 regular users with 30 people who had never used the drug.

They were given questionnaires to assess long and short-term aspects of memory as well as taking part in a video-based shopping memory task.

The ecstasy users reported an average 29% more memory problems and remembered to buy an average 25% less items.

There were two strands to the study - in one participants were asked to think back and were asked questions about remembering to meet friends, posting a letter or switching off lights.

The second was based around the participants watching a video of a town street and shops.

'Significant forgetting'

Ten minutes before they watched the video, they were given a list of 16 things to remember, for example what to buy from a particular shop.

Researchers found the ecstasy users remembered an average of 25% less items. It meant the ecstasy users remembered up to two or three items less than the other group.

University senior lecturer in psychology Dr Tom Heffernan said: "I would say it was quite a significant forgetting rate. It is something they certainly should be concerned about."

Dr Heffernan said it was the first time an objective, video-based piece of research has been used with ecstasy users in relation to everyday memory.

He said it therefore meant results were more significant than just relying on accounts of how bad their memories might be.

He said: "We think ecstasy could affect certain parts of the brain directly or interrupt the transmitters that send messages around the brain."

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