Cognitive Neuroscience Talks

Running out of time? Ecstasy and circadian clock function

The substituted amphetamine drugs 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") can damage certain serotonin neurons in the brain of animals. However, little is known about the drugs' effects on circadian rhythmicity which is strongly influenced by serotonergic input to the suprachiasmatic nuclei. In this preliminary work we examine how the circadian system responds to typical clock stimuli associated serotonin prior to and after treatment with MDMA. Our work to date indicates that repeated exposure to MDMA may interfere with the ability of serotonin to reset the circadian clock both in vivo and in vitro. This change may become particularly important as animals get older, and experience the normal age related decline of serotonin levels in the clock area.