It is often said that the MDMA club drug – also known as ecstasy or curved – increases feelings of emotional proximity to others and empathy. A new study of England now suggests that the drug actually affects how people feel and act towards others.
In the study, researchers found that MDMA has made people more cooperative, but only with those considered reliably.
In other words, MDMA does not make people enthusiastic about others, says researchers.
The study also found that MDMA's lead has led to an increase in brain activity in areas of the brain that took part in social interaction and an understanding of the thoughts and intentions of others. [6 Party Drugs That May Have Health Benefits]
And because MDMA is also being studied as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the new findings are "an important and timely step" leading to a better understanding of the social and emotional effects of the drug, he wrote the researchers in their paper, published November 19 in The Journal of Nuroscience.
Collaborate or compete
It is known that MDMA, which is illegal in the United States, increases the activity of chemical messages in the brain that is related to behavior and mood, including dopamine and serotonin. But there are little known about the different chemical messages in the brain that contribute to complex social behavior, such as co-operation, the researchers said.
The new study included 20 healthy men in their 20s and 30s who did not have psychiatric disorders or substance use, but had taken MDMA at least once.
The participants were randomly given to receive 100 milligrams of pure MDMA (the chemical 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) or placebo before playing a game while they had scanned their brains. In the game, known as the Prisoner Dilema, participants choose either to compete or co-operate with another player. If both players choose to cooperate, both will get points. But if one player chooses to cooperate and the other competes, the one who chooses to compete gets all the points.
Participants were told that they were playing against real people, but in fact, they were playing against a computer with pre-programming responses. The researchers programed that the computer player is either "reliable", which means it co-operates in most games, or "unexpected", which is It means competing in most games.
The study found that participants who took MDMA were more likely to cooperate with reliable players, compared to participant who took placebo. But MDMA did not have an impact on their co-operation with uncomfortable players – those on MDMA and the placebo worked with incredible players at the same rate.
"MDMA did not cause participants to cooperate with incredible players more than normal," said senior study Mitul Mehta, neuroimaging teacher and King's College of College psychopharmacology, in a statement.
In addition, the study found that when the participants were "betrayed" – that is, when choosing co-operation but their opponent chose to compete – he reduced their tendency to cooperate during the next game. However, those who took MDMA have recovered collaborative behavior with reliable players faster, compared to those who took placebo.
"This trend led to rebuilding relationships with higher levels of collaboration with reliable partners," said lead study author Anthony Gabay, a neuroscient at Oxford University, who held the work while at King's College London.
MDMA also increases activity in the cerebral areas known as the temporal temporal cortex and the concentration cortex. It is believed that these two areas are important in understanding other thoughts, beliefs and intentions.
Perceptions may have implications for a number of psychiatric conditions that include problems with "social cognition," or an understanding of the thoughts and emotions of others. Such conditions include depression and schizophrenia.
"Understanding brain activity that can inform social behavior can help identify what's going from space [these] psychiatric conditions, "said Mehta.
The researchers noted that, because the study was only men, it is not clear whether the findings also apply to women.
Originally published on Living Science.