Cognitive Neuroscience Talks

The effects of prior use of MDMA(Ecstasy) on specific executive functions.

Despite evidence for reduced frontal cortical serotonergic innervation following long-term MDMA(Ecstasy) use, to date no consensus has emerged regarding impairments in executive cognitive functions. This may be partly due to the complex nature of standard executive function tests normally administered. In an influential paper, Miyake and colleagues (2000) used factor analysis techniques to show that executive functions comprise at least three different components: inhibition, task shifting capacity and updating of short-term memory. They showed that standard executive test were found to \\\"load\\\" heavily on these different components. I will present some recent data on MDMA and cannabis users which used novel tasks based on Miyake\\\'s analysis and which show that demonstrating drug-related executive function deficits may require analysis of the individual component cognitive processes which make up executive functions, and that even Miyake\\\'s tripartite analysis may be an oversimplification.