Author(s): Hart CL, Marvin CB, Silver R, Smith EE
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Abstract The prevailing view is that recreational methamphetamine use causes a broad range of severe cognitive deficits, despite the fact that concerns have been raised about interpretations drawn from the published literature. This article addresses an important gap in our knowledge by providing a critical review of findings from recent research investigating the impact of recreational methamphetamine use on human cognition. Included in the discussion are findings from studies that have assessed the acute and long-term effects of methamphetamine on several domains of cognition, including visuospatial perception, attention, inhibition, working memory, long-term memory, and learning. In addition, relevant neuroimaging data are reviewed in an effort to better understand neural mechanisms underlying methamphetamine-related effects on cognitive functioning. In general, the data on acute effects show that methamphetamine improves cognitive performance in selected domains, that is, visuospatial perception, attention, and inhibition. Regarding long-term effects on cognitive performance and brain-imaging measures, statistically significant differences between methamphetamine users and control participants have been observed on a minority of measures. More importantly, however, the clinical significance of these findings may be limited because cognitive functioning overwhelmingly falls within the normal range when compared against normative data. In spite of these observations, there seems to be a propensity to interpret any cognitive and/or brain difference(s) as a clinically significant abnormality. The implications of this situation are multiple, with consequences for scientific research, substance-abuse treatment, and public policy.
This article was published in Neuropsychopharmacology
and referenced in Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies