‘Ecstasy’ (MDMA) and visuospatial processing: a follow-up systematic review

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reports a systematic review concerning the relationship of ecstasy (MDMA) to impairments in human visuospatial processing. The present review followed-up that of Murphy et al. (2012), published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental (Volume 27, pp. 113-138). Both reviews concerned ecstasy users not under the influence of the drug when tested. The Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO databases were searched using the same search terms and inclusion criteria as the 2012 review, covering the period from June 2010 to November 2019. Eighteen research articles containing 20 studies were included in the present review. Contradictory evidence for impaired visusopatial processing was found in all four task categories examined. It was concluded that future studies should seek to make greater use of hair toxicology data for objective measures of both ecstasy use, and that of other drugs which might confound results. Furthermore, measures of brain functioning accompanying visuospatial processing should be taken (e.g. using functional near-infra red spectroscopy) to address the possibility of differences in localised brain activity supporting similar performance levels in users and nonusers. Future studies should also be mindful of genotypic differences concerning MDMA metabolism and serotonergic functioning as a potential component of variance in their results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychobiological Issues in Substance Use and Misuse.
EditorsPhilip Murphy
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-29634-5
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-27361-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameCurrent Issues in Psychobiology


  • Ecstasy
  • MDMA
  • Visuospatial
  • Systematic Review


Dive into the research topics of '‘Ecstasy’ (MDMA) and visuospatial processing: a follow-up systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this