MDMA enhances positive affective responses to social feedback

This double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial (n=36) investigates the effects of two doses of MDMA (52.5-105mg/70kg) compared to both placebo and methamphetamine (20 mg) on responses to personalized social feedback in healthy adults. The study concludes that the higher dose of MDMA increases positive affective responses to social feedback, suggesting a potential mechanism by which MDMA may enhance social connection.

Abstract of MDMA enhances positive affective responses to social feedback

“Background: The prosocial compound ± 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is an amphetamine derivative that has shown promise as an adjunct to psychotherapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. MDMA increases positive responses to social images, and it has been suggested that the ability of MDMA to positively bias social perception may underlie its therapeutic efficacy as a psychotherapy adjunct. However, the effect of the compound on affective responses to positive or negative social feedback has not been tested.

Aims: In this study, we aimed to test the effects of MDMA compared to placebo and the prototypical stimulant, methamphetamine (MA), on responses to positive and negative social feedback.

Methods: This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial (NCT03790618), comparing the effects of two doses of MDMA (0.75 mg/kg, 1.5 mg/kg) to both placebo and MA (20 mg) on responses to a personalized social feedback task, similar to a dating app, in healthy adult volunteers ages 18–40 (N = 36, 18 women, 18 men).

Results/Outcomes: The high dose of MDMA increased positive affective responses to social feedback.

Conclusions/Interpretations: These findings suggest one process by which MDMA may facilitate social connection. Further work is needed to understand how MDMA affects responses to more generalized types of social feedback and to understand these effects in clinical populations.”

Authors: Anya K. Bershad, David T. Hsu & Harriet De Wit

Summary of MDMA enhances positive affective responses to social feedback

Social processing is critical to functioning in society and maintaining healthy family, social, and professional relationships. However, many patients with psychiatric disorders experience either heightened responses to negative social input or blunted responses to positive social input.

The amphetamine derivative MDMA, which is known as an “empathogen” for its ability to induce feelings of social connection, may be a promising way to bias social perception positively. MDMA enhances subjective feelings of sociability, friendliness, and confidence, in addition to positive affective responses to social cues. MDMA induces the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin through the release of serotonin, which leads to the release of oxytocin, which may explain some of the prosocial effects of the drug.

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MDMA enhances positive affective responses to social feedback

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Cite this paper (APA)

Bershad, A. K., Hsu, D. T., & de Wit, H. (2024). MDMA enhances positive affective responses to social feedback. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 02698811231224153.

Study details

Compounds studied
Placebo MDMA

36 Humans

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