New study on MDMA suggests it helps build trust, showcases the drug’s impact on social interactions
The more studies published on the effects of MDMA, the more research indicates that the drug could be a viable aid for disorders such as PTSD and other psychiatric illnesses. A recent study conducted by British scientists Mitul Mehta, a neuroscientist at King’s College London, and Anthony Gabay, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, examined the effect of MDMA in relation to its impact on social decision making.
The scientists used MRI machines to scan the brains of 20 male participants who played Prisoner’s Dilemma – a video game involving two participants stuck in a tricky situation, where mutual cooperation leads to the optimal outcome. The scientists then administered 100mg of MDMA to 10 participants and a placebo to the other 10 male participants, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. After being administered the placebo or the MDMA, the participants played rounds of the game where they were asked whether they would compete or cooperate with the other player. Then they were told about their opponent’s choice, and how many points they received. They were then asked to rate their trust in their opponent on a scale from one to seven.
Ultimately, the players who received the 100mg MDMA dose had enhanced cooperation with the trustworthy, but not the untrustworthy players. This was as compared to the participants who were administered the placebo. In addition to facilitating cooperation between the user and the trustworthy within the video game, the study also found that MDMA facilitates a greater recovery from breaches of trust.
Gabay spoke on what this could look like in the future,
“In psychiatric illnesses, there’s a lot of research to suggest that people are actually impaired on a social level. But we don’t fully understand the mechanisms between these interactive processes in people without those illnesses either.”
The study ultimately provides new insights into the impact of MDMA on social interactions, with a focus on the importance of social interactions towards the user.