(±)-3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy') increases social interaction in rats

Kirsten C. Morley, Iain S. McGregor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)


A series of experiments administered a low dose range (0, 1.25, 2.5 and 5 mg/kg) of (±)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy') to rats and assessed them in a variety of standard tests of anxiety. These tests included the emergence and elevated plus-maze tests, social interaction, cat odor avoidance and footshock-induced ultrasonic vocalizations. MDMA increased anxiety-related behaviours in the emergence and elevated plus-maze tests at all dose levels. A 5 mg/kg dose of MDMA also significantly reduced the time spent in close proximity to an anxiogenic cat odor stimulus. The 5 mg/kg dose also significantly reduced footshock-induced ultrasonic vocalizations. In the social interaction test, MDMA decreased aggressive behaviours at all doses tested, while the highest dose (5 mg/kg) also significantly increased the duration of social interaction. These results indicate that MDMA has both anxiogenic and anxiolytic effects depending upon the test situation employed. The facilitation of social interaction produced by MDMA in rats concurs with human experience of MDMA as a uniquely prosocial drug. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Cat
  • Ecstasy
  • MDMA ((±)-3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
  • Odor
  • Social interaction
  • Ultrasonic vocalization

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