Rats at a Rave

Ecstacy Cranking up the music can exacerbate the club drug ecstasy’s deleterious effects on the brain, according to a new study. When scientists simulated a dance party for rats in the lab, the rodents suffered from reduced brain activity 5 times longer than their counterparts who took the drug in peace and quiet. The findings suggest environment may play a significant role in the harmful effects of the drug among humans.

To see how sound impacts the effects of ecstasy, Michelangelo Iannone, a neurologist at the Institute of Neurological Science in Catanzaro, Italy, and colleagues gave relatively low and high doses of the drug to 20 rats. The team then placed half of the rodents in a cage blasted with white noise and half in a sound-proof metal box, while monitoring their brain activity with a device called an electrocorticograph (ECoG). Turning the volume up appears to turn brain function down. Among rats given the high dose of ecstasy, those exposed to 95 decibels–the maximum noise legally allowed in Italian nightclubs–had ECoG readings half as high as rats not exposed to sound.

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