Auditory event-related potentials (P3) and cognitive performance in recreational ecstasy polydrug users: evidence from a 12-month longitudinal study.

Behavioral Neurology and Dementia Section, Neurology Department, Hospital del Mar, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Passeig Maritim, 25-29, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.
Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 4.06). 07/2008; 200(3):425-37. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-008-1217-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There is important preclinical evidence of the long-lasting neurotoxic and selective effects of ecstasy (MDMA) on serotonin systems in nonhuman primates. In humans, long-term recreational use of ecstasy has been mainly associated with memory impairment.
The first aim of our study was to evaluate the cognitive and electrophysiological long-term alterations associated with lifetime ecstasy use within a sample of ecstasy polydrug users along a 1-year follow-up. Our second aim was to explore the relationship between specific cognitive functions and P300 (P3) event-related potentials (ERPs) in ecstasy users.
We conducted auditory P3 latency and amplitude and administered a battery of cognitive tests to three groups of subjects: 14 current ecstasy polydrug users, 13 current cannabis users, and 22 controls free of illicit drugs in two evaluations during 1 year.
We found significant differences between ecstasy users and controls on cognitive measures of word fluency, processing speed, and memory recognition after 1-year follow-up. We found no significant differences between ecstasy and cannabis users or cannabis users and controls on cognitive tests. Lifetime ecstasy use was associated with poorer memory recognition. No group differences were shown on P3 latency or amplitude. Significant correlations emerged between P3 latency and cannabis lifetime use (higher cannabis use was related to faster latency, showing a paradoxical effect) but not with ecstasy exposure.
Our findings provide evidence of mild long-term cognitive deficits among ecstasy polydrug users. Both ecstasy use and the dynamic interaction between ecstasy and cannabis effects may account for these deficits. No significant P3 alterations were found in ecstasy users.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in knowledge about cannabinoid receptor function have renewed interest in the association between cannabis and psychosis. Converging lines of evidence suggest that cannabinoids can produce a full range of transient schizophrenia-like positive, negative and cognitive symptoms. Cannabinoids also produce some psychophysiological deficits also known to be present in schizophrenia. Also clear is that in individuals with an established psychotic disorder, cannabinoids can exacerbate symptoms, trigger relapse, and have negative consequences on the course of the illness. Increasing evidence suggests that early and heavy cannabis exposure may increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. The relationship between cannabis exposure and schizophrenia fulfills some, but not all, of the usual criteria for causality. However, most people who use cannabis do not develop schizophrenia, and many people diagnosed with schizophrenia have never used cannabis. Therefore, it is likely that cannabis exposure is a "component cause" that interacts with other factors to "cause" schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder, but is neither necessary nor sufficient to do so alone. In the absence of known causes of schizophrenia, however, and the implications for public health policy should such a link be established the role of component causes such as cannabinoid exposure should remain a focus of further study. Finally, further work is necessary to identify the factors that underlie individual vulnerability to cannabinoid-related psychosis and to elucidate the biological mechanisms underlying this risk.
    Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria 05/2010; 32 Suppl 1:S15-30. · 1.86 Impact Factor
  • Brain Behavior and Immunity - BRAIN BEHAV IMMUN. 01/2011; 25.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug worldwide, with ~5 million daily users worldwide. Emerging evidence supports a number of associations between cannabis and psychosis/psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. These associations-based on case-studies, surveys, epidemiological studies, and experimental studies indicate that cannabinoids can produce acute, transient effects; acute, persistent effects; and delayed, persistent effects that recapitulate the psychopathology and psychophysiology seen in schizophrenia. Acute exposure to both cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids (Spice/K2) can produce a full range of transient psychotomimetic symptoms, cognitive deficits, and psychophysiological abnormalities that bear a striking resemblance to symptoms of schizophrenia. In individuals with an established psychotic disorder, cannabinoids can exacerbate symptoms, trigger relapse, and have negative consequences on the course of the illness. Several factors appear to moderate these associations, including family history, genetic factors, history of childhood abuse, and the age at onset of cannabis use. Exposure to cannabinoids in adolescence confers a higher risk for psychosis outcomes in later life and the risk is dose-related. Individuals with polymorphisms of COMT and AKT1 genes may be at increased risk for psychotic disorders in association with cannabinoids, as are individuals with a family history of psychotic disorders or a history of childhood trauma. The relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia fulfills many but not all of the standard criteria for causality, including temporality, biological gradient, biological plausibility, experimental evidence, consistency, and coherence. At the present time, the evidence indicates that cannabis may be a component cause in the emergence of psychosis, and this warrants serious consideration from the point of view of public health policy.
    Frontiers in Psychiatry 01/2014; 5:54.

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 17, 2014