PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review


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Capella University

PSYC FPX 4310 Biological Psychology

Prof. Name


Literature Review

The neurobiology of ecstasy (MDMA) abuse is a critical area of research due to the increasing prevalence of MDMA use and the potential negative consequences of its abuse. MDMA, also known as 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a psychoactive drug commonly used recreationally to produce euphoria and increase social bonding. However, MDMA also has a complex pharmacology that has led to its investigation for various therapeutic applications, including treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.

Scholarly Research Findings

The neurobiology of MDMA abuse is a complex and multifaceted topic that scientists have extensively studied. A significant theme that has emerged from the research is its effects on brain chemistry. MDMA has been shown to alter neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which can contribute to its effects on mood, behavior, and cognition. MDMA abuse has been shown to have a range of effects on cognitive function, including impairments in memory, attention, and decision-making (Lin et al., 2013).

Another research article by Mercer et al. (2017) examines the potential neurotoxic effects of MDMA on serotonin neurons in the brain. According to the study, MDMA cause neurotoxicity to serotonin neurons (Mercer et al., 2017). This neurotoxicity may manifest as reductions in the density of serotonin-containing neurons and axons, as well as impairments in the function of these neurons.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The existing research on the neurobiology of MDMA abuse provides important insights into the effects of the drug on the brain and behavior. One strength of the existing research is that it utilizes a variety of research methods, including animal studies, human studies, and neuroimaging techniques, to explore the complex neurobiological mechanisms underlying MDMA abuse.

However, there are also several weaknesses in the existing research that highlight the need for further investigation. For example, many of the studies reviewed above have focused primarily on the acute effects of MDMA abuse, rather than long-term effects. Additionally, there may be individual differences in brain chemistry that influence the severity and duration of the drug’s effects, which have not been fully explored in the existing literature.

Psychological Theory

One psychological theory that can be applied to the neurobiology of MDMA abuse is the Self-Medication Hypothesis, which proposes that individuals use substances to alleviate negative affective states or symptoms of mental illness (Lawrence et al., 2022).

Another psychological theory that can be applied to the neurobiology of MDMA abuse is the Incentive-Sensitization Theory, which proposes that repeated drug use leads to changes in the brain’s reward system that make drug use more rewarding and attractive over time (Hellberg et al., 2018).


The neurobiology of MDMA abuse is a complex and multifaceted topic that has been extensively studied. The research has demonstrated that MDMA can significantly impact brain chemistry and function by altering neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Further research is needed to deepen our understanding of the neurobiology of MDMA abuse and to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies for reducing its negative impact on mental health.


References will be provided in the APA format: Abuse, N. I. o. D. (2017). MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly). National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Bora, K. S., Sharma, N., & Sharma, A. (2016). Ecstasy (MDMA) and its effects on kidneys and their treatment: A review. Journal of Clinical Toxicology, 6(2).

Creagh, D., Houghton, N., Denyer, G., & Clark, B. (2018). The Effects of MDMA on Cognitive and Neuroplasticity Processes. Molecular Neurobiology, 55(6), 4542–4551.

Hellberg, S. N., Sutherland, R. J., & Hodge, C. J. (2018). The Incentive-Sensitization Theory and MDMA: How Ecstasy Use Develops from a Specific Social Behavior into a Widespread Addiction. In W. S. J. R. Miles (Ed.), Ecstasy: Pharmacology, Effects, and Treatment of Abuse.

Lawrence, M. S., Perry, J. L., & Serper, M. R. (2022). Examining the self-medication hypothesis of substance use in MDMA users. Journal of Substance Use, 27(1), 1–5.

Lin, L.-Y., Di, C.-G., & Green, A. R. (2013). The neuroprotective effect of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine against the acute and subchronic effects of MDMA in rat brain. Free Radical Research, 47(4), 251–261.

PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

Mercer, L. D., Higgins, C., Lau, C. L., & Forward, J. J. (2017). Acute effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on serotonin transporter binding and its relationship to serotonin levels in the rat brain. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(5), 597–604.

Meyer, J. S. (2013). Serotonin syndrome induced by MDMA (Ecstasy) abuse. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 88(12), 1399–1400.

Müller, C. P., & Homberg, J. R. (2015). The role of serotonin in drug use and addiction. Behavioural Brain Research, 277, 146–192.

Sessa, B. (2017). Can Psychedelics Have a Role in Psychiatry Once Again? The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(6), 457–458.

Spillane, J. E., Ciarleglio, A., & Makela, E. H. (2013). The Neurobiology of MDMA: An Overview. Neuropharmacology of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), 35–54.

Tao, R., Shokry, I. M., & Callanan, J. J. (2017). Environment Influencing Serotonin Syndrome Induced by Ecstasy Abuse. In M. F. N. e. a. Blaustein (Ed.),

Serotonin Receptors in Neurobiology (pp. 337–359). Springer US.

PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 3 Literature Review

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