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Addict Behav. 2005 Jan;30(1):89-101.

Differential effects of MDMA, cocaine, and cannabis use severity on distinctive components of the executive functions in polysubstance users: a multiple regression analysis.

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  • 1Clinical Psychology Department, University of Granada, Spain.


Executive functioning impairments have been demonstrated following consumption of drugs of abuse. These executive impairments could play an important role on the development of the addictive process and rehabilitation of substance abusers. Recent neuropsychological models of executive functioning assume a multicomponent organization of these processes, suggesting different functions could contribute differentially to performance on executive tasks. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between severity of consumption of different drugs and neuropsychological performance on tasks sensitive to impairment in the executive subprocesses of working memory, response inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and abstract reasoning. Instruments sensitive to impairment in these four components were administered to 38 polysubstance abusers along with a severity of drug consumption interview. Multiple regression analyses were used. Results showed a differential impact of severity of MDMA abuse on working memory and abstract reasoning indices, of cocaine severity on an inhibitory control index and of cannabis on a cognitive flexibility index. Metabolic reorganization of monoamine frontal-subcortical pathways after drug exposure are proposed as possible explanations for these impairments.

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