Verbal memory deficits in recreational Ecstasy/MDMA users

The study concluded that verbal learning and recall deficits of recreational Ecstasy or MDMA users are correlated with glucose hypometabolism in prefrontal and parietal cortex, while word recognition was additionally correlated with mediotemporal hypometabolism. We conclude that memory deficits of MDMA users arise from combined fronto-parieto-mediotemporal dysfunction.
Ecstasy or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a recreational club drug with supposed neurotoxic effects selectively on the serotonin system. MDMA users consistently exhibit memory dysfunction but there is an ongoing debate if these deficits are induced mainly by alterations in the prefrontal or mediotemporal cortex, especially the hippocampus. Thus, we investigated the relation of verbal memory deficits with alterations of regional cerebral brain glucose metabolism (rMRGlu) in recreational MDMA users.
Brain glucose metabolism in rest was assessed using 2-deoxy-2-(18F)fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography (18FDG PET) in 19 male recreational users of MDMA and 19 male drug-naïve controls. 18FDG PET data were correlated with memory performance assessed with a German version of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test.
As previously shown, MDMA users showed significant impairment in verbal declarative memory performance. PET scans revealed significantly decreased rMRGlu in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal and inferior parietal cortex, bilateral thalamus, right hippocampus, right precuneus, right cerebellum, and pons (at the level of raphe nuclei) of MDMA users. Among MDMA users, learning and recall were positively correlated with rMRGlu predominantly in bilateral frontal and parietal brain regions, while recognition was additionally related to rMRGlu in the right mediotemporal and bihemispheric lateral temporal cortex. Moreover, cumulative lifetime dose of MDMA was negatively correlated with rMRGlu in the left dorsolateral and bilateral orbital and medial PFC, left inferior parietal and right lateral temporal cortex.
Citation: Bosch OG, Wagner M, Jessen F, Kühn K-U, Joe A, et al. (2013) Verbal Memory Deficits Are Correlated with Prefrontal Hypometabolism in 18FDG PET of Recreational MDMA Users. PLoS ONE 8(4): e61234. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061234
Editor: Stefano L. Sensi, University G. D’Annunzio, Italy
Received: January 4, 2013; Accepted: March 8, 2013; Published: April 9, 2013
Funding: Dr. Quednow received personal grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG, grant QU 218/1-1), the University of Zurich (Nachwuchsförderungskredit), and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF, grant PP00P1_123516). The study was funded by the Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Germany. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
• Oliver G. Bosch (Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland)
• Michael Wagner, (Germany)
• Frank Jessen, (Germany)
• Kai-Uwe Kühn, (Germany)
• Alexius Joe, (Germany)
• Erich Seifritz, (Germany)
• Wolfgang Maier, (Germany)
• Hans-Jürgen Biersack, (Germany)
• Boris B. Quednow (Germany)
Connie’s comments: In the ‘Brain’ book, CAT scans of brain of drug and alcohol users showed a decreased in size. In the book by John Arden, ‘Rewire your brain”, the following topics are discussed:
• Firing the right brain cells together
• Taming your amygdala (Fear)
• Shifting left
• Cultivating Memory
• Fueling your brain
• Healthy habits: exercise and sleep
• Social medicine
• Resiliency and wisdom
• The mindful attitude

Rewire your brain

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