Information processing speed in ecstasy (MDMA) users

Michelle Wareing, John E Fisk, Catharine Montgomery, Philip N Murphy, Martin D Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research draws parallels between ecstasy-related and age-related deficits in cognitive functioning. Age-related impairments in working memory have been attributed to a slow down in information processing speed. The present study compared 29 current ecstasy users, 10 previous users and 46 non-users on two tests measuring information processing speed and a computation span task measuring working memory. Results showed that ecstasy users performed worse than non-ecstasy users in the letter comparison task although the overall difference was not significant (p=0.089). Results from the pattern recognition task showed that current ecstasy users produced significantly more errors than the other two groups (p<0.01). When results were combined for both the letter and pattern tasks, once again current ecstasy users produced significantly more errors than non-ecstasy users (p<0.01). Working memory deficits obtained were statistically significant with both ecstasy using groups performing significantly worse than non-users on the computation span measure (p<0.01). Moreover, ANCOVA with measures of processing speed as covariates failed to eliminate the group difference in computation span (p<0.01). Therefore, it is likely the mechanism responsible for impairments in the computation span measure is not the same as that in elderly adults where processing speed generally removes most of the age-related variance. Also of relevance is the fact that the ecstasy users reported here had used a range of other drugs making it difficult to unambiguously attribute the results obtained to ecstasy use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-8
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Adult
  • Amphetamine/administration & dosage
  • Cannabis/chemistry
  • Cocaine/administration & dosage
  • Ethanol/administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Memory/drug effects
  • Mental Processes/drug effects
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine/administration & dosage
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual/drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance/drug effects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders/physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


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