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The effects of MDMA on socio-emotional processing: Does MDMA differ from other stimulants?

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±3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a popular recreational drug that enhances sociability and feelings of closeness with others. These “prosocial” effects appear to motivate the recreational use of MDMA and may also form the basis of its potential as an adjunct to psychotherapy. However, the extent to which MDMA differs from prototypic stimulant drugs, such as dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate, in either its behavioral effects or mechanisms of action, is not fully known. The purpose of this review is to evaluate human laboratory findings of the social effects of MDMA compared to other stimulants, ranging from simple subjective ratings of sociability to more complex elements of social processing and behavior. We also review the neurochemical mechanisms by which these drugs may impact sociability. Together, the findings reviewed here lay the groundwork for better understanding the socially enhancing effects of MDMA that distinguish it from other stimulant drugs, especially as these effects relate to the reinforcing and potentially therapeutic effects of the drug.

Bershad, A. K., Miller, M. A., Baggott, M. J., & de Wit, H. (2016). The effects of MDMA on socio-emotional processing: Does MDMA differ from other stimulants?. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881116663120.
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