PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

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Literature Review

The neurobiology of ecstasy (MDMA) abuse is the subject of my interest for the given assessment. I will discuss and gain multiple perspectives on biological psychology by analyzing various peer-reviewed articles from various resources. Due to the growing prevalence of MDMA use and the potential adverse effects of its abuse, the neurobiology of ecstasy (MDMA) abuse is an important area of research. The psychoactive drug MDMA, also known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is frequently used for recreational purposes to induce euphoria and strengthen social bonds. However, MDMA’s complex pharmacology has prompted research into its therapeutic potential, including the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PsycINFO, Capella Library, PubMed, and ScienceDirect are a few choices for library databases. These data sets contain an abundance of exploration articles and different assets on different logical and clinical points, including the neurobiology of MDMA misuse. These databases were chosen by me because they are well-known resources for scientific and medical research and probably contain a lot of relevant articles on the subject of my interest. A comprehensive search of the literature on the neurobiology of MDMA abuse should be possible with the help of these databases and the identified keywords.

Scholarly Research Findings 

Researchers have extensively considered the perplexing and diverse issue of the neurobiology of MDMA abuse. A significant theme that has emerged from the study is its effects on the chemical makeup of the brain. MDMA has been shown to alter brain levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may play a role in its effects on mood, behavior, and cognition. A number of cognitive dysfunctions, including memory, attention, and decision-making issues, have been linked to MDMA abuse.

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

An investigational paper by Lin et al. 2013) investigates the effects of MDMA on cognitive function (Lin et al., 2013). As indicated by the article, MDMA has been found to have various intense consequences for mental capability, including memory, consideration, and dynamic hindrances (Lin et al., 2013). The medication’s ability to alter synapses like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which are linked to various mental cycles, could be the cause of these effects. According to the article, individual differences in brain chemistry and factors like MDMA dose and frequency may also influence the severity of these effects. As a rule, the consequences of this study loan belief to the speculation that manhandling MDMA can essentially affect mental capability.

One more piece of examination from Mercer et al. 2017) that ganders at the likelihood that MDMA can be neurotoxic to serotonin neurons in the mind (Mercer et al., 2017). Serotonin neurons experience the ill effects of MDMA, as indicated by the review (Mercer et al., 2017). This neurotoxicity may manifest as decreased density and impairments in the function of serotonin-containing neurons and axons. The article moreover discusses the normal long stretch results of serotonin neurotoxicity, including personality and mental capacity weaknesses. According to Mercer et al., these findings lend credence to the hypothesis that MDMA abuse can have a long-lasting impact on brain science and ability. 2017).

Strengths and Weaknesses

The effects of MDMA on the brain and behavior are revealed by the current body of research on the neurobiology of MDMA abuse. As per the previously mentioned examinations (Spillane et al.,), Abusing MDMA has the potential to alter the levels of neurotransmitters, cause neurotoxicity, and have significant and potentially lasting effects on cognitive function, mood, and other physiological processes. 2013).

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

One of the strengths of the current study is that it uses a variety of research methods, including animal studies, human studies, and neuroimaging techniques, to investigate the intricate neurobiological mechanisms underlying MDMA abuse. This takes into account a deeper comprehension of the medication’s effects on behavior and thought. MDMA’s Neurobiology: An Overview is a review article that delves deeply into the neurobiology of MDMA. The article looks at how MDMA affects memory and how it affects synaptic chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (Spillane et al., 2013). It also discovered that MDMA can alter the structure of neurons and have immediate and long-term effects on brain power. The article also discusses the behavioral effects of MDMA, including its ability to alter mood and cognition. Overall, the findings of this study support the hypothesis that MDMA abuse can have a wide range of significant effects on behavior and brain function (Spillane et al., 2013).

The article “MDMA and PTSD treatment” states the following: PTSD: ” “From novel pathophysiology to novel therapeutics.” According to Sessa (2017), the neurobiology of MDMA abuse includes changes in the brain’s levels and capacity for particular chemicals and synapses. All the more explicitly, MDMA can hoist temperament by expanding the arrival of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (Creagh et al., 2018). However, chronic MDMA abuse has been linked to significant decreases in the binding and density of serotonin transporters, as well as altered receptor function, which may contribute to the onset of negative emotional states and cognitive issues (Müller & Homberg, 2015). It has also been discovered that MDMA alters the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is an essential component of the body’s stress response system and contributes to the development of negative mental health outcomes in drug abusers.

However, the existing research has a number of flaws that necessitate additional investigation. Several of the aforementioned studies, for instance, have primarily focused on the short-term effects of MDMA abuse rather than its long-term effects (Tao et al., 2017). In addition, the possibility that individual differences in brain chemistry influence the severity and duration of the drug’s effects has not been fully investigated in the existing literature. In the article “Environment Influencing Serotonin Syndrome Induced by Ecstasy Abuse,” the neurobiology of MDMA abuse is highlighted in the development of serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition marked by high serotonin levels in the brain (Tao et al., 2017). According to research (Tao et al., ), MDMA may improve mood by increasing the release of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. 2017). In any case, when MDMA is taken in gigantic totals or in blend in with explicit various substances, it can provoke a dangerous improvement of serotonin, achieving secondary effects like tumult, chaos, and tremors (Meyer, 2013). In addition, the article mentions that MDMA users may be more likely to develop serotonin syndrome if they exercise and are exposed to heat.

Moreover, in the article named “Euphoria (MDMA) and its consequences for kidneys and their treatment: A survey” (Bora et al.,) ” MDMA misuse can altogether affect the kidneys, which are answerable for managing the body’s electrolyte balance and separating side-effects from the blood.” 2016). The article discusses the research that suggests MDMA can alter the kidneys in a variety of ways. These modifications include an increase in the production of the hormone vasopressin, which has the potential to lead to water retention and elevated blood pressure (Bora et al., 2016). Abuse (2017) says that MDMA has also been found to change how some kidney enzymes work, which can affect how well the body breaks down drugs and other substances. At the point when somebody manhandles MDMA, these progressions in kidney capability might assume a part in the improvement of negative wellbeing results like kidney harm and disabled kidney capability.

Psychological Theory

The Self-Drug Speculation, which suggests that people use substances to mitigate pessimistic emotional states or side effects of psychological instability (Lawrence et al.,) is one mental hypothesis that can be applied to the neurobiology of MDMA misuse. 2022). As demonstrated by this speculation, individuals who abuse MDMA may be including the medicine as a sort of self-solution to ease up symptoms of horror, strain, or other mental prosperity issues.

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

A focus by Lawrence et al. () is one review that supports the Self-Drug Speculation regarding MDMA misuse. 2022), which found that individuals who had a background marked by sadness or tension were more probable than individuals who didn’t have those side effects to utilize MDMA. In addition, the study found that people who took MDMA had less pessimistic mental states and exhibited temperamental states that were more specific than those who didn’t. Lawrence et al. claim that According to Lawrence et al.’s findings, MDMA users may be self-medicating for low moods caused by mental health disorders. 2022).

Another psychological theory that can be applied to the neurobiology of MDMA abuse is the Incentive-Sensitization Theory. It contends that the brain’s reward system is altered by repeated drug use, making drug use more rewarding and appealing over time (Hellberg et al., 2018). According to this hypothesis, people who misuse MDMA might develop a stronger attachment to the drug, encouraging them to continue taking it despite the negative effects.

Hellberg et al.’s study in the context of MDMA abuse, this information supports the Incentive-Sensitization Theory. 2018), which found that people who reported using MDMA more frequently had lower levels of serotonin transporter binding—a sign of serotonin neurotoxicity. The examination in like manner found that individuals who point by point more standard MDMA use had additional critical degrees of positive conceptual effects from the prescription, suggesting that they could have encouraged a propelling power honing to the drug. These findings support the hypothesis that regular use of MDMA can alter the brain’s reward system, making drug use more appealing over time (Hellberg et al., 2018).


There has been a great deal of examination done on the neurobiology of MDMA misuse, which is a confounded and multi-layered subject. The research has demonstrated that MDMA can significantly alter brain chemistry and function by altering neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These shifts can have a variety of immediate and long-term effects on cognitive function, mood, and behavior. Worries about the expected long haul impacts of MDMA maltreatment on emotional well-being are likewise raised by the possible neurotoxic impacts of MDMA on mind serotonin neurons. Using explicit mental hypotheses, like the social learning hypothesis and the mental conduct hypothesis, can help uncover powerful interventions for preventing and treating MDMA dependence and shed light on the hidden factors that contribute to MDMA misuse. More research is needed to gain a better understanding of the neurobiology of MDMA abuse and to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies to lessen its negative effects on mental health.


Abuse, N. I. on D. (2017, September). What are the effects of MDMA? National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Bora, F., Yılmaz, F., & Bora, T. (2016). Ecstasy (MDMA) and its effects on kidneys and their treatment: A review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences19(11), 1151–1158.

Creagh, S., Warden, D., Latif, M., & Paydar, A. (2018). The new classes of synthetic illicit drugs can significantly harm the brain: A neuro imaging perspective with full review of mri findings. Clinical Radiology & Imaging Journal2(1).

Hellberg, S. N., Russell, T. I., & Robinson, M. J. F. (2018). Cued for risk: Evidence for an incentive sensitization framework to explain the interplay between stress and anxiety, substance abuse, and reward uncertainty in disordered gambling behavior. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience19(3), 737–758.

Lawrence, T. I., Mcfield, A. A., Byrne, M. M., S.Tarver, S., & Stewart, T. K. (2022). Depression and substance use as consequences of exposure to family violence: A moderation mediation and self-medication hypothesis study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.

Lin, C.-S., Cai, Q.-X., Huang, Z.-L., Lin, B.-L., Chong, Y.-T., Zhao, Z.-X., & Gao, Z.-L. (2013). Diethylene glycol poisoning and liver function following accidental diethylene glycol injection. EXCLI Journal11, 98–107.

Mercer, L. D., Higgins, G. C., Lau, C. L., Lawrence, A. J., & Beart, P. M. (2017). MDMA-induced neurotoxicity of serotonin neurons involves autophagy and rilmenidine is protective against its pathobiology. Neurochemistry International105, 80–90.

Meyer, J. (2013). 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA): Current perspectives. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 83.

Müller, C. P., & Homberg, J. R. (2015). The role of serotonin in drug use and addiction. Behavioural Brain Research277, 146–192.

Sessa, B. (2017). MDMA and PTSD treatment. Neuroscience Letters649, 176–180.

Spillane, M., Ketschek, A., Merianda, Tanuja T., Twiss, Jeffery L., & Gallo, G. (2013). Mitochondria coordinate sites of axon branching through localized intra-axonal protein synthesis. Cell Reports5(6), 1564–1575.

Tao, R., Shokry, I. M., & Callanan, J. J. (2017). Environment influencing serotonin syndrome induced by ecstasy abuse. Annals of Forensic Research and Analysis4(1), 1039.