High Amphetamine Use in Adolescence Impacts Adult Memory

High Amphetamine Use in Adolescence Impacts Adult Memory

It isn’t any real surprise that drugs can have a negative impact on a person – especially with prolonged use. Now, research conducted on rats is finding that high doses of amphetamines at an age that corresponds to the later years of adolescence tends to greatly impact memory in adult life.

This finding, discussed in Science Daily shows that such an impact on the memory presents itself long after the exposure ends. One interesting finding from this study showed that the memory deficit did not emerge until adulthood. Those in adolescence using the drug still had full memory capacity.

"Animals that were given the amphetamine during the adolescent time period were worse at tasks requiring working memory than adult animals that were given the same amount of amphetamine as adults," said psychology professor Joshua Gulley, who led the study with graduate student Jessica Stanis. "This tells us that their working memory capacity has been significantly altered by that pre-exposure to amphetamine."

To conduct this study, researchers tested two types of amphetamine exposure, which included intermittent – or a steady dose every other day – and “binge escalation” in which increasing amounts of the drug were given over a period of four days and then followed by a simulated binge or a high dose every two hours for eight hours on the fifth day.

This study reveals some of the potential long-term consequences associated with amphetamine abuse by adolescents and could be relevant to those taking amphetamines for therapeutic purposes, including those being treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

"Adolescence is a time when the brain is continuing to develop into its mature form, so drug exposure during this critical period could have long-lasting, negative consequences," Gully said. "Our findings reveal that adolescents are particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of amphetamine on cognitive function and that these effects can persist well after drug use is discontinued."

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