August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) impairs categorization of brief fearful expressions
Author Affiliations
  • Matthew Baggott
    Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, and Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory, Calfironia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
  • Gantt Galloway
    Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory, Calfironia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
  • Hossein Pournajafi-Nazarloo
    The Brain-Body Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • C. Sue Carter
    The Brain-Body Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Ryne Didier
    Oregon Health and Science University, School of Medicine
  • Margie Jang
    Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory, Calfironia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
  • Jeremy Coyle
    Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory, Calfironia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
  • John Mendelson
    Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory, Calfironia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 491. doi:10.1167/9.8.491
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      Matthew Baggott, Gantt Galloway, Hossein Pournajafi-Nazarloo, C. Sue Carter, Ryne Didier, Margie Jang, Jeremy Coyle, John Mendelson; MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) impairs categorization of brief fearful expressions. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):491. doi: 10.1167/9.8.491.

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Abstract

MDMA (±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, ‘Ecstasy’) is said to have unique effects including increased empathy and sociability. However, the perceptual and emotional effects of MDMA have not been well-studied in a controlled laboratory setting. We conducted a within-subjects placebo-controlled study in which 16 participants (8 male, 8 female) received 1.5 mg/kg oral MDMA and placebo in separate sessions. We measured categorization of emotional facial expressions using a 4-alternative forced choice task where a face with a neutral expression briefly displayed either a happy, sad, angry, or fearful expression. Self-report sociability and plasma oxytocin were also measured. MDMA impaired categorization of brief fearful facial expressions, decreasing accuracy and a signal-detection measure of discrimination (d-prime). MDMA also increased plasma oxytocin concentrations and self-report sociability. MDMA may not increase empathic accuracy, but may instead decrease response to threat-related stimuli while increasing sociability.

Baggott, M. Galloway, G. Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H. Carter, C. S. Didier, R. Jang, M. Coyle, J. Mendelson, J. (2009). MDMA ('Ecstasy') impairs categorization of brief fearful expressions [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):491, 491a, http://journalofvision.org/9/8/491/, doi:10.1167/9.8.491. [CrossRef]
Footnotes
 Support by NIDA DA016776.
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