Visuospatial memory impairments in users of MDMA (‘ecstasy’)

M. Wareing, J. Fisk, P. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Objectives: Visual memory has been implicated as being impaired in users of the drug MDMA (‘Ecstasy’). Other studies have documented deficits in phonological measures of working memory. The present study evaluated whether a measure of visuo-spatial working memory was impaired in users of MDMA and whether a concurrent task loading on the central executive exacerbated this tendency. Design: User group (26 current MDMA users, 10 previous users and 18 non-MDMA users) was between participants and dual task (concurrent alphabetic generation, random letter generation, and no dual task) within participants. Method: The Spatial Working Memory task required participants to serially recall a spatial sequence while simultaneously completing a visual judgement task. The task was completed on its own and under dual task conditions. Results: Overall, non-users performed significantly better than both MDMA user groups. Current and previous users did not differ significantly from each other. However, contrary to expectation no significant group by dual task interaction was found. The performance decrement among users was no worse with concurrent random generation compared to control conditions. The potentially confounding effects of other drugs were explored via ANCOVA. The main effect of MDMA remained significant following control for amphetamine and cocaine and remained marginally significant following control for cannabis use. Conclusions: This outcome suggests that MDMA users as well as experiencing deficits in phonologically based measures also experience deficits in spatial working memory. The lack of an apparent effect of dual task is explored with reference to the notion of a fractionated executive system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventBritish Psychological Society (BPS) Annual Conference - Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Mar 200315 Mar 2003


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society (BPS) Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Visuospatial memory impairments in users of MDMA (‘ecstasy’)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this