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Article Dans Une Revue Biological Psychology Année : 2005

Event-related potentials (ERPs) in ecstasy (MDMA) users during a visual oddball task


Ecstasy is the common name for a drug mainly containing a substance identified as 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). It has become popular with participants in ‘‘raves’’, because it enhances energy, endurance and sexual arousal, together with the widespread belief that MDMA is a safe drug [Byard, R.W., Gilbert, J., James, R., Lokan, R.J., 1998. Amphetamine derivative fatalities in South Australia. Is ‘‘ecstasy’’ the culprit? Am. J. Forensic Med. Pathol. 19, 261–265]. However, it is suggested that this drug causes a neurotoxicity to the serotonergic system that could lead to permanent physical and cognitive problems. In order to investigate this issue, and during an ERP recording with 32 channels, we used a visual oddball design, in which subjects (14 MDMA abusers and 14 paired normal controls) saw frequent stimuli (neutral faces) while they had to detect as quickly as possible rare stimuli with happy or fearful expression. At a behavioral level, MDMA users imply longer latencies than normal controls to detect rare stimuli. At the neurophysiological level, ERP data suggest as main result that the N200 component, which is involved in attention orienting associated to the detection of stimulus novelty (e.g. [Campanella, S., Gaspard, C., Debatisse, D., Bruyer, R., Crommelinck, M., Gue´rit, J.M., 2002. Discrimination of emotional facial expression in a visual oddball task: an ERP study. Biol. Psychol. 59, 171–186]), shows shorter latencies for fearful rare stimuli (as compared to happy ones), but only for normal controls. This absence of delay was interpreted as an attentional deficit due to MDMA consumption.

Dates et versions

hal-03018755 , version 1 (23-11-2020)



Sandrine Mejias, M. Rossignol, D. Debatisse, E. Streel, L. Servais, et al.. Event-related potentials (ERPs) in ecstasy (MDMA) users during a visual oddball task. Biological Psychology, 2005, Biological Psychology, 69 (3), pp.333-352. ⟨10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.010⟩. ⟨hal-03018755⟩


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