Leading Edge / Summer 2001
What Was I Thinking?

Ecstasy use can lead to memory impairment, study finds


Long-term users of a popular street drug called ecstasy experience memory loss, says a new study led by psychology professor Konstantine Zakzanis. The study, published in the April 9 issue of the journal Neurology, followed 15 ecstasy users for one year and found continued use of the drug led to progressive memory impairment. Neuropsychological tests at the beginning and end of the 12 months measured the participants’ cognitive function and everyday memory using tasks such as face and object recognition, name recall and story recollection. Over the year, the participants’ scores either declined or were static, but did not improve. Retrospective memory – for example, the ability to recall a short prose passage immediately and after a brief delay – declined most significantly. “A significant proportion of users may eventually be at risk for long-term neurotoxicological effects, particularly in the hippocampus, a brain region that is believed to play an important role in learning and the consolidation of new memories,” says Zakzanis, of the University of Toronto at Scarborough’s division of life sciences.


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