'Party drug' ecstasy hurts users' complex memories

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Melbourne, Feb 16 (ANI): Ecstasy takers face difficulties when it comes to performing difficult memory tasks, a new Australian research has found.

Led by Australian National University psychologists Dr John Brown, Dr Elinor McKone and Dr Jeff Ward, the study appears in the online ahead of print issue of Psychopharmacology.

To reach the conclusion, researchers studied three groups of people aged in their early 20s from the general population in 2002, 2003 and 2004-05. Fifty-nine were ecstasy users, 65 non-drug users and 32 cannabis users, reports ABC Science.

The participants were asked to complete a number of verbal tasks, ranging from easy to difficult in cognitive complexity. When recalling words from simple tests, memory deficits were similar across the groups, regardless of whether lifetime ecstasy use was rated as low (23 tablets) or high (384).

But as the tasks became harder, ecstasy users performed worse.

"When significant differences were found between ecstasy and non-drug users, both groups were compared with cannabis users, as cannabis is associated with short-term memory loss," McKone said.

"In the hardest task - recalling groups of three unrelated words - ecstasy and cannabis users did very poorly compared with non-drug users.

"When users were given five chances to learn and remember the sets, cannabis users eventually improved and caught up to non-drug users, but ecstasy users never caught up, meaning they can't learn as well as others," she added. (ANI)

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