Re: Y is it so? And will sex for fun survive?

Anders Sandberg (
15 Dec 1999 16:06:25 +0100

James Rogers <> writes:

> On Tue, 14 Dec 1999, Octavio Rojas Diaz wrote:
> >
> > well to change the topic I think that love pills already exists (MDMA
> > and it's analogues) unfortunately it has some side effects, and it's
> > believed that chronic use can lead to neuronal damage although no
> > conclusive data has been show of it's neurotoxicity on humans,
> > unfortunately these kind of drugs are ilegal and research is prohibited,
> > but fortunately MDMA and analogues action is similar to some serotonin
> > affecting antidepressants, and I hope further research leaves to safer
> > and more effective drugs.
> I am not a doctor, nor an expert on the subject, but I do have a couple
> friends that have used MDMA extensively. There is one apparent
> side-effect that is common to them that may or may not be from heavy MDMA
> usage, although it is not readily obvious unless you interact with them
> regularly.
> They have extremely poor short-term memory, much worse than I have ever
> seen in a normal person.

MDMA produces long-term depletion of serotonin, and while it is harder to detect in human brains (for simple ethical reasons; it is hard to get people to volunteer to being drugged and having their brains dissected :-) there seem to be better and better evidence for it:

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999 Nov 5;147(1):56-65

Altered neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to m-chlorophenylpiperazine in 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) users.

McCann UD, Eligulashvili V, Mertl M, Murphy DL, Ricaurte GA

Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1272, USA

Rationale: (+/-) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy") is a popular drug of abuse and a brain serotonin neurotoxin in animals. Growing evidence indicates that humans are also susceptible to MDMA's neurotoxic effects, although few functional consequences of MDMA-induced 5-HT damage have been identified. Objective: The present study sought to determine whether possible differences between MDMA users and control subjects could be unmasked by utilizing a pharmacological challenge with the mixed 5-HT agonist, meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP). It was postulated that 5-HT neurotoxicity in MDMA users would be associated with altered 5-HT responsivity, exemplified by altered physiological and behavioral responses to m-CPP. Methods: Twenty-five MDMA users who had not taken MDMA for at least 3 weeks and 25 controls received intravenous placebo (normal saline) and m-CPP (0.08 mg/kg) in a fixed order, single blind design. Repeated measures of mood, physical symptoms, and blood samples for neuroendocrine analyses were collected during the 90 min after each infusion. Results: MDMA users reported more positive and fewer negative emotions and physical symptoms following m-CPP than controls, and were significantly less likely to report an m-CPP-induced panic attack. Male MDMA users had diminished cortisol and prolactin responses to m-CPP. Conclusions: The present data indicate that MDMA users have alterations in 5-HT neuronal function, possibly as a consequence of MDMA-induced brain serotonin neural injury.

The short-term memory impairment seems to be supported too:

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999 Apr;143(4):417-25

Cognitive performance in (+/-) 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") users: a controlled study.

McCann UD, Mertl M, Eligulashvili V, Ricaurte GA

Unit on Anxiety, Biological Psychiatry Branch, NIMH, Bethesda, MD 20892-1272, USA.

RATIONALE: (+/-) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") is an amphetamine analog and drug of abuse. In animals, MDMA damages brain serotonin (5-HT) neurons at doses that overlap with those used recreationally by some humans. To date, few functional sequelae of MDMA-induced 5-HT damage have been identified. OBJECTIVE: Since serotonin is thought to be involved in cognitive processes, and since previous studies have reported verbal and visual memory deficits in MDMA users, the present study sought to determine whether other cognitive processes are influenced by previous exposure to MDMA. METHODS: Twenty-two MDMA users who had not used MDMA for at least 3 weeks and 23 control subjects were tested repeatedly with a computerized cognitive performance assessment battery while participating in a 5-day controlled inpatient study. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures of monoamine metabolites were also collected as an index of brain monoaminergic function. RESULTS: MDMA users and controls were found to perform similarly on several cognitive tasks. However, MDMA subjects had significant performance deficits on a sustained attention task requiring arithmetic calculations, a task requiring complex attention and incidental learning, a task requiring short term memory and a task of semantic recognition and verbal reasoning. MDMA users also had significant selective decreases in CSF 5-HIAA. CONCLUSIONS: The present CSF data provide further evidence that MDMA is neurotoxic to brain 5-HT neurons in humans, and the behavioral data suggest that brain 5-HT injury is associated with subtle, but significant, cognitive deficits.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999 Jan;141(1):30-6

Memory deficits associated with recreational use of "ecstasy" (MDMA).

Morgan MJ

Centre for Substance Abuse Research, Department of Psychology, University of Wales Swansea, UK.

Evidence from both animal, and human, studies suggests that repeated administration of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA: "ecstasy") produces lasting decreases in serotonergic activity. Serotonin is believed to play a modulatory role in a variety of psychological processes, including learning and memory. There are recent reports that polydrug users, who have used ecstasy recreationally, exhibit selective impairments in memory. However, these studies did not compare ecstasy users with polydrug users who had not taken ecstasy, leaving open the possibility that the memory deficits may be associated with a history of use of other illicit drugs. The present study used the Rivermead Behavioural Memory test to investigate immediate and delayed recall in: 25 polydrug-users who had taken more than 20 tablets of ecstasy (MDMA group), 22 participants (polydrug controls) who had never taken ecstasy, but, otherwise has personal characteristics (e.g. age, gender, education, height, weight), and illicit drug use histories, that were generally not significantly different from those of the MDMA group, and 19 participants who had not used illicit drugs but who also had similar personal characteristics (non-drug controls). Participants in the MDMA group recalled significantly fewer ideas (approximately 75% of the number of ideas recalled by participants in either of the other two groups), in both immediate and delayed recall conditions. The two illicit drug-using groups did differ in their estimated IQ scores and their duration of use of LSD, but only the latter proved to be a statistically significant covariate, and the difference in recall performance between the MDMA and polydrug controls groups remained statistically significant when this variable was treated as a covariate. The present findings provide the first evidence that deficits in memory performance in recreational ecstasy users are primarily associated with past exposure to ecstasy, rather than with the other legal and illicit drugs consumed by these individuals, and are consistent with reduced serotonergic modulation of mnemonic function as a result of long-term neurotoxic effects of MDMA in humans.

(Psychopharmacology is a fun journal, although I mostly read it for the cognitive enhancer papers)

> But as I said, I am no expert on the subject; I am just reporting what
> I and others have noticed. By "poor" short-term memory, I mean that I
> could spend an hour helping them go over some subject matter, and the next
> day they would not remember that they had even talked to me about it.
> Long-term memory seems fine, though.

Sounds like they have problems with their hippocampi; what you described sounds very much like weak anterograde amnesia.

Overall, drugs that affect the monoaminergic modulator systems for a long time are not very nice.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y