The drug MDMA (ecstasy) is very well known, however it s long term, and cognitive functioning effects are not. The main purpose of this study was to establish if users and previous users of MDMA exhibit impairments in more basic level cognitive processes such as working memory functioning, information processing speed, anxiety and arousal (Warning, Fisk, Murphy, May 00, 2). In past studies of MDMA, a lot of information regarding its effects has been established yet so much more is still unclear. Topics such as MDMA s relationship to arousal levels and whether the mood and cognitive functioning impairments are long term are either unstudied or virtually unknown. These topics being very important it was decided that a study should be performed. With these ideas in mind, the experimenters focused on two main hypotheses.
The first included that MDMA users would be less effective in the random letter generation task. This task studies a persons central executive functioning. The second hypothesis was saying previous, current and non-users arousal levels would differ greatly and users would have the highest anxiety levels. The method the study was done was experimental. 30 individuals participated in all and were divided into 3 categories users, non-users and previous users. Users defined as currently using MDMA, non-users as never using MDMA and previous users were defined as having quit the drug for at least 6 months.
There were equal numbers of males and females in each of the 3 groups. The independent variables in this study were the user group and previous user group. This would determine the short-term effects on users and long-term effects on previous users. The control variable was the group of non-users. The dependent variable would be the experiments performed, or more, the gist of the experiments. These experiments were designed to measure central executive measures, background measures, information processing speed, arousal and anxiety.
The study included questionnaires, oral questions and simple tasks. The experiments were performed individually on each participant. An important note that was found was that all users, both previous and current, were taking at least one other psychoactive drug in addition to MDMA. This might very well be a factor in all experiments performed. The random generation task is designed to place a constant strain on the central executive and keeps demanding the brain to work and think.
Since users and previous users scored less than non-users, it s safe to assume MDMA users have trouble in coping with high levels of cognitive demand. Even previous users have trouble with this test showing that this impairment persists even when you quit taking MDMA. This study also found through the information processing speed test that MDMA users are able to process information as quickly as non-users just not as accurate by a significant amount. In general, the idea the authors were aiming at was that users, or previous users, would score lower on the experiment compared to the non-users. Perhaps the experiment was not as well designed to fit this particular expectation. One of the hypotheses was that users would score less than non-users in a random letter generation task by a significant amount.
This was both proven and not proven with the results. The authors found that in the one second production test they were right and non-users did significantly better than users or previous users. On the other hand, this was only a third of the test, there were also 2 second and 4 second tests where non-users did score better but by very little and by no means significant. The other hypothesis was regarding anxiety and arousal saying that with all three groups would differ significantly. This one they couldn t have guessed better, between all three groups they found there was a significant difference with both anxiety and arousal. The study on MDMA and its effects was very inconclusive.
The gist of the whole study was to find how a certain type of drug, in the short and long run, affects its consumers. The participants who were studied and compared to non-users all confessed to using at least more than one drug besides MDMA. This brings questions like what kind, how much, how often and how do these drugs on these patterns mixed with MDMA effect you in the long run. Perhaps it s not even the MDMA that affected these individuals.
The study was also made up of 30 participants using the snowball effect to recruit them. There are a lot of conclusions being drawn from only 30 people in the same basic area. What if education in that particular environment was slow to begin with The authors should have expanded their research to other places and more people. Before I found out the results I figured that taking drugs would slow your brains functioning down or impair it.
It came out to be true so there was no huge surprise with this study. I knew how it affected people in the short run especially in current users but I didn t know that it persisted even after you quit. This did not surprise me in the least bit it more confirmed a belief.