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Effects of ecstasy/polydrug use on memory for associative information

Gallagher, DT, Fisk, JE, Montgomery, C, Judge, J, Robinson, SJ and Taylor, PJ (2012) Effects of ecstasy/polydrug use on memory for associative information. Psychopharmacology, 222 (4). pp. 579-591. ISSN 1432-2072

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Rationale. Associative learning underpins behaviours that are fundamental to the everyday functioning of the individual. Evidence pointing to learning deficits in recreational drug users merits further examination. Objectives. A word pair learning task was administered to examine associative learning processes in ecstasy/polydrug users.

Methods. After assignment to either single or divided attention conditions, 44 ecstasy/polydrug users, and 48 nonusers were presented with 80 word pairs at encoding. Following this, four types of stimuli were presented at the recognition phase; the words as originally paired (old pairs), previously presented words in different pairings (conjunction pairs), old words paired with new words, and pairs of new words (not presented previously). The task was to identify which of the stimuli were intact old pairs. Results. Ecstasy/ploydrug users produced significantly more false positive responses overall compared to nonusers. Increased long-term frequency of ecstasy use was positively associated with the propensity to produce false positive responses. It was also associated with a more liberal signal detection theory (SDT) decision criterion value. Measures of long term and recent cannabis use were also associated with these same word pair learning outcome measures. Conjunction word pairs, irrespective of drug use, generated the highest level of false positive responses and significantly more false positive responses were made in the DA condition compared to the SA condition.

Conclusions. Overall, the results suggest that long-term ecstasy exposure may induce a deficit in associative learning and this may be in part a consequence of users adopting a more liberal decision criterion value.

Key Words: Ecstasy, Drug Use, Cognition, Memory, Associative Learning, Word Pairs

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-012-2652-x
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical And Health Sciences, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Date Deposited: 15 May 2015 09:06
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 14:24
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1079
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