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Halpern JH, Sherwood AR, Hudson JI, Gruber S, Kozin D, Pope Jr HG. 
“Residual neurocognitive features of long-term ecstasy users with minimal exposure to other drugs”. 
Addiction. 2010 Oct 15.
AIMS: In field studies assessing cognitive function in illicit ecstasy users, there are several frequent confounding factors that might plausibly bias the findings toward an overestimate of ecstasy-induced neurocognitive toxicity. We designed an investigation seeking to minimize these possible sources of bias.

DESIGN: We compared illicit ecstasy users and non-users while 1 excluding individuals with significant life-time exposure to other illicit drugs or alcohol 2 requiring that all participants be members of the 'rave' subculture and 3 testing all participants with breath, urine and hair samples at the time of evaluation to exclude possible surreptitious substance use. We compared groups with adjustment for age, gender, race/ethnicity, family-of-origin variables and childhood history of conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We provide significance levels without correction for multiple comparisons.

SETTING: Field study.

PARTICIPANTS:Fifty-two illicit ecstasy users and 59 non-users, aged 18-45 years.

MEASUREMENTS: Battery of 15 neuropsychological tests tapping a range of cognitive functions.

FINDINGS: We found little evidence of decreased cognitive performance in ecstasy users, save for poorer strategic self-regulation, possibly reflecting increased impulsivity. However, this finding might have reflected a pre-morbid attribute of ecstasy users, rather than a residual neurotoxic effect of the drug. Conclusions: In a study designed to minimize limitations found in many prior investigations, we failed to demonstrate marked residual cognitive effects in ecstasy users. This finding contrasts with many previous findings-including our own-and emphasizes the need for continued caution in interpreting field studies of cognitive function in illicit ecstasy users.
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