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    Reduced cortical gray matter density in human MDMA (Ecstasy) users: a 
    #1
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    The popular recreational drug, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) exerts its actions in part via blockade of serotonin and dopamine
    reuptake. Many animal and human studies have demonstrated long-lasting
    reductions in measures of central nervous system (CNS) serotonin function
    following MDMA administration. One emerging role of serotonin function in
    the CNS is a positive trophic effect via stimulation of intracellular
    signaling pathways and trophic factors. We hypothesized that human MDMA users might display neocortical gray matter reductions due to loss of
    serotonergically mediated trophic effects on cortical cells. However,
    unlike animal models, most human MDMA users worldwide are polydrug users, thereby complicating the assessment of MDMA toxicity in this group.
    Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 31 MDMA polydrug
    users versus 29 non-MDMA users were compared using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to assess regional brain gray and white matter concentration. VBM employs gray/white matter segmentation and statistical parametric mapping (SPM) analysis to calculate a voxel-wise comparison of regional gray or white matter concentration. Using this method, we consistently found several brain regions having decreased gray matter concentration in MDMA polydrug users. These regions were localized to neocortex in bilateral Brodmann area (BA) 18, left BA 21, and left BA 45, as well as bilateral cerebellum, and midline brainstem. Overall, these preliminary findings suggest that MDMA polydrug users have multiple regions of gray matter reduction, potentially accounting for previously reported neuropsychiatric impairments in MDMA users. Additional animal model and human studies of the CNS effects of MDMA and combined MDMA-polydrug toxicity are needed to further explain these findings. Potential explanations for our results including pre-existing brain differences predisposing to MDMA polydrug use, direct MDMA and polydrug toxicity, indirect changes due to MDMA and polydrug toxicity, or combinations of all these factors.

    Ronald L. Cowan, , a, b, In Kyoon Lyooa, c, Seung Mo Sunga, c, Kyung
    Heup Ahna, c, Minue J. Kima, c, Jaeuk Hwangc, Erika Hagaa, Ram Lakhan
    Panday Vimala, Scott E. Lukasb and Perry F. Renshawa


    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...f6ee61aa420d92
    "I believe that if people would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditions, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonder child"
    -Dr. Albert Hofmann
     

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    #2
    Bluelight Crew rm-rf's Avatar
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    Question
    on one hand, this abstract is great because it seems to be lacking in media sensationalizm. on the other hand, Im not a neurologist and dont know what this study implies :-/

    so i guess my questions for the neuroscientists are, what is grey matter? how severe is the reduction of grey matter relative to having a functioning brain/psyche in today's society? and - does grey matter grow back?

    im also guessing its going to be next to impossible to do a non-polydrug mdma study on humans.
     

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    #3
    Bluelight Crew Psilo707's Avatar
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    Yeah I agree with Above ^^.
    It doesnt make any sense to me. hehe
     

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    #4
    Bluelighter day_for_night's Avatar
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    it means that people who take e and other drugs have less "going on" in areas of the brain than do non drug users. less neurons firing, ect.

    at least they are objective...they dont claim it was the ecstacy alone that did it. however, the study just doesnt have enough people to be statistically significant. and, we are not told how much these MDMA users use ecstacy, or any of the other drugs they take.

    these studies have a long way to go before becoming valid in my eyes.
     

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    #5
    Bluelight Crew rm-rf's Avatar
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    ^ ive never bought into that shit. To make a long drawn out post short, my personal drug-using experiences have made me feel alot smarter, both in wisdom and intelligence. I feel like I have alot more "going on" in my brain (than the average non drug user, who seems to have nothing "going on" whatsoever).

    I think not only do they have to look at amounts of MDMA used, but amounts used in one "session," and intervals of usage over time. For instance, if subject A uses MDMA at a dosage of 100mg once every 5 months, but also uses heroin, alchohol, LSD, tobacco, and marijuana (not necessarily together) on a regular basis, subject A is not going to show a signifigant reduction in gray matter according to this article. Whereas, subject B may use only marijuana and MDMA, except he/she uses one to two times a month, and frequently doses up to 750mg in one night. Subject B may have a much different brain scan than subject A.

    This study could EASILY be used for media propaghanda. They could not differentiate between certain things, such as I have said above, and just use individuals who binge ecstasy, and are probably retarded to begin with. The news media could easily use that as "proof" that ecstasy fries your brain.
     

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    #6
    Also, they did not say if the control group uses drugs. If the control group was a group of non-users who didnt drink of anything, and of course the MDMA group drinks, then the study is invalid. They would at least need a control group of polydrug users.
     

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    #7
    Bluelighter Psychadelic_Paisly's Avatar
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    Is it similar to the way alcohol causes grey matter to degenerate?
    (i think that's what it does...)

    I meant this in the terms of alcohol causing to brain 'shrinkage'
     

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    #8
    Let's hope so. And from what I've read, alcohol damage recovers nicely.

    On a sidenote, I'm glad that we're not all quick to totally disregard this study. On other drugs websites and even sometimes on bluelight, it seems that we want to make MDMA and other, "harder" drugs, to use an often contested term, just as safe as marijuana. Just because all studies in the past for that drug have ultimately been discredited does not mean that these will. I personally think that MDMA does some kind of damage, even if it is minimal, inconsequential or recoverable. Be safe, people.
     

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    #9
    This abstract really doesn't seem to say much about "Reduced cortical gray matter density in human MDMA (Ecstasy) users" - there's not mention in the title of polydrug use at all. That seems to be at the crux of the abstract.

    It seems the whole issue of not having decent control groups and test subjects is just one more (huge) reason why there should be more studies on MDMA, instead of relegating it to schedule 1 status.

    Does anybody have access to the full pdf?

    DaF
     

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    #10
    I agree with Roman Holiday that it is good that everyone isn't so quick to disregard this study like the other ones. I have read many many posts and even though some did not have very good studies I believe some did and they were equally disregarded. I also think ecstasy does do some brain damage wether it be massive or minimal is to be found out. Also if it is able to be recoverable is to be found out also.
     

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    #11
    Bluelight Crew E-llusion's Avatar
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    I think the media can very easily turn this around into another "ecstasy fries your brain" articles all they need from that original is this quote:

    MDMA users might display neocortical gray matter reductions due to loss of
    Might = to popular media : "will do for sure"

    Just like those scientists who wrote about an asteroid that "might possibly be on collision course with earth's orbit" the media grabbed the word "might" and started printing doomsday articles all over "Killer Asteroid will destroy earth in 2028" ...

     

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    #12
    Bluelight Crew rm-rf's Avatar
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    id still like this to be put into neurology for beginners terms...where is 5-ht2 when you need him?
     

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    #13
    Ex-Bluelighter gugglebum's Avatar
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    The question we really need to be asking here:

    Are these guys sure they got it right this time? Or did Santa Clause switch it with some dirty old speed again?

    I'm not even gonna bother to read it. I don't want to find out I wasted these precious 10 mins. reading what the effects of shooting laundry detergents are.
     

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    #14
    Bluelighter Sander's Avatar
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    The authors mention that there is a “reduction” in grey matter in MDMA polydrug users compared to the control group. Grey matter is the term used to define that part of the brain where there is a collection of neuron cell bodies (as opposed to their axons which branch off to other parts of the brain and to the rest of the body). Collections of axons in the brain (called tracts) have a sheath wrapped around them called a myelin sheath which is rich in fats. It is this that gives these tracts a white colour so they conveniently termed neuron tracts white matter. Neuronal cell bodies do not have this sheath and collections of them appear “grey” and therefore are termed grey matter.

    Bottom line: If there is reduced grey matter then this would suggest that there are reduced cell bodies in the brain – which seems to go against the literature at large. Loss of a neuron equates to a death of neuron and the last time I checked, MDMA wasn’t shown to destroy cell bodies. I would guess that the polydrugs would have a more significant role on the loss of grey matter. As mentioned before in the postings, it would be nice to see the drug use history on the subjects used for the study before making any conclusions.
     

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    #15
    Bluelighter Psychadelic_Paisly's Avatar
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    I find that i have become significant;y challanged finding the 'descriptive' words when i'm talking or writing since using Ecstacy, As have some of my friends....i once had a very deep grasp of the english language.....but then again, maybe i'm just not reading enough books :-P
     

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    #16
    Unless someone either has registered on this site or decides to register and then quote the full article; there are so many questions left from reading the abstract that it’s extremely difficult to have any sort of conclusive discussion about this article.
     

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    #17
    I've uploaded the article in PDF format here:
    http://www.geocities.com/phantasmal_bluelight

    I'd comment, but I really don't have time nor motivation right now... maybe over the weekend...

    [edit] OK, apparently it doesn't want to work, at least as far as my computer is concerned... If someone wants to upload it to their web space, PM me and I'll email it to you
    Last edited by phantasmal; 26-11-2003 at 10:51.
     

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    #18
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    Only on bluelight could a study show a particular finding, even with its self admitted short fallings, yet everyone somehow seems to conclude the opposite. Step back and look at your responses critically and objectively and see how ridiculous they are. And no, I'm not some anti drug government fiend.
     

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    #19
    Bluelighter tranquilo's Avatar
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    The study of the brain and how it works is still very much in its infancy; our understanding is based upon the quantitive limitations of science. By that I mean science measures and counts and with regard to the human brain we are still struggling even in this area. As this abstract, and other BLers have noted, it is difficult to find and monitor accurately large enough groups of individuals to gain statistical value. This difficulty is then compounded by then finding and monitoring control groups.

    Once we have managed to discover statistically the impacts of MDMA we have then have to consider the qualitative effects....and we are still groping in the dark here. The 'rule of thumb' has been (and I have no doubt will continue to be) that continued MDMA use causes depression. Yet psych. tests in the UK in the early 90's seemed to show that E users had been 'conditioned', via their experiences, to view life in far more optimistic and positive frames than non-users. These results contradicted the neuro-scientific theories.

    We may have more grey cells than white or vice versa...but a simple roll-call is only the first step in understanding.

    It may be a long time, if ever, that we truly understand MDMA's impact upon the human brain/psyche so in the meantime treat with respect
     

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    #20
    Originally posted by phantasmal
    I've uploaded the article in PDF format here:
    http://www.geocities.com/phantasmal_bluelight

    I'd comment, but I really don't have time nor motivation right now... maybe over the weekend...

    [edit] OK, apparently it doesn't want to work, at least as far as my computer is concerned... If someone wants to upload it to their web space, PM me and I'll email it to you
    I was able to download a copy of the paper from your link, so perhaps it is working now.
     

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    #21
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    Why even conduct a study when the procedure is obviously so tainted that no conclusion can even be reached? Yes, they at least admit that they don't know what causes the reduction in grey matter, but I could have told you that from the very beginning.
     

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    Chill people 
    #22
    I'd recommend tanking it easy while reading any scientific report.
    The human mind is so complex that science (let alone neuroscience) is at the verge of even beginning to understand the bio- and psychodynamics of it all, let alone the cause and effect of any changes the brain undergoes during life, after depression, during pain and while euphoric. Or anything off-baseline if you like it.
    So, even if someone says: "Hey, I have been able to find a statistically significant difference between the brains of people who drive fast and people who drive slow on a freeway." it doesn't mean the fast drivers are more capable than the slow drivers in driving a car.
    They just drive slower. Many reasons may exist for why they do. Unconsciously, there may be hundreds.

    An extremely talented pianoplayer may thrill an audience, but often ends up killing himself.
    Who has the answer to what mdma may do to his life? Only he.
    And if I start comparing his brain density as defined in neurofiring occurence to someone who is happy and living a long life, I may not find a difference.

    I doubt whether stuff like this will be ever grasped by science.

    But anyway, the more we know, the better right?

    P.s., I second the other respondents on the speech issue.
    But then again, who knows exactly why that happens?
    And still, we can work on changing that right?

    And remember, the most respected brain surgeon ever was and is a dyslectic.
    Funny huh?

    Peace.
     

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    Re: Reduced cortical gray matter density in human MDMA (Ecstasy) users: a 
    #23
    Potential explanations for our results including pre-existing brain differences predisposing to MDMA polydrug use, direct MDMA and polydrug toxicity, indirect changes due to MDMA and polydrug toxicity, or combinations of all these factors.

    [...]

    This study does not permit us to conclude that this particular cohort of MDMA users suffered serotonin axon loss....
    An interesting study, and very responsibly analyzed by it's authors. It raises some interesting questions, particularly about what effect if any the temporary drop in serotonin levels and receptor downregulation following MDMA exposure might have on overall brain health. Pre-existing population differences are a very viable explanation for the differences, but I'd still file this one under 'one more reason to practice moderation.'

    Overall, an unusually high quality piece of work in the field.

    Trivia: Nerve cells can come with or without a layer of fatty insulation on them. Cells with this insulation look white, cells without it look gray. The brain is mostly the latter type.
     

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