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Memory lapse - flip side of recreational drugs

Have you ever forgotten to post an important letter or let an appointment slip your mind? A new study suggests that for those who regularly use Ecstasy or other recreational drugs, this kind of memory lapse is more common.

world Updated: Feb 24, 2010 14:18 IST

Have you ever forgotten to post an important letter or let an appointment slip your mind? A new study suggests that for those who regularly use Ecstasy or other recreational drugs, this kind of memory lapse is more common.

Florentia Hadjiefthyvoulou, John Fisk, and Nikola Bridges from the University of Central Lancashire and Catharine Montgomery from Liverpool John Moores University, wanted to delve deeper into the link between deficits in prospective memory (remembering to remember, or remembering to perform an intended action) and drug use.

A team led by Fisk also published evidence in 2005 that those using ecstasy perform worse in deductive reasoning, too.

Researchers recruited 42 ecstasy/polydrug users (14 males, 28 females) and 31 non-users (5 males, 26 females) for the study - all were students.

Students were quizzed about their drug habits (including tobacco, cannabis and alcohol), and given questionnaires to assess their everyday memory, cognitive failures and prospective and retrospective memory.

They were then given a number of lab-based memory tests, including some that required students to remember something several weeks later.

The results showed that recreational drugs such as Ecstasy, or the regular use of several drugs, affect users' memory functions, even when tests are controlled for cannabis, tobacco or alcohol use.

According to Fisk, memory deficits were evident in both lab-based and self-reported measurements of subjects' prospective memory.

An interesting outcome that merits further study is an association between recreational cocaine use and memory lapses, says a release of University of Central Lancashire.

The authors believe that this is the first study to link recreational cocaine use with prospective memory deficits.

These findings appear in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.