Recreational use of mephedrone, alone and in combination with alcohol, has increased over the past years. Pharmacological properties of mephedrone share similarities with methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), but its effect on neurocognitive function has not been well established in humans. The present study assessed the effect of mephedrone alone and after co-administration with alcohol on neurocognitive function. It was hypothesised that mephedrone would improve psychomotor performance but impair memory performance, when administered alone. Neurocognitive performance was expected to be impaired following mephedrone when combined with alcohol. Eleven participants received single doses of 200 mg mephedrone or placebo combined with 0.8 g/kg alcohol or placebo. Neurocognitive performance was assessed at baseline (T0), at one hour (T1) and four hours after (T2) mephedrone administration, by means of the Divided Attention Task (DAT), Critical Tracking Task (CTT), and the Spatial Memory Test (SMT). Mephedrone intoxication impaired short-term spatial memory at T1 and improved critical tracking performance at T2 Mephedrone alone did not affect divided attention, but did show an interaction with alcohol on reaction time at T2 Reaction time decreased when mephedrone was combined with alcohol as compared to alcohol alone. Alcohol intoxication impaired both short- and long-term spatial memory at T1 and divided attention at T1 and T2 Critical tracking performance was not affected by alcohol intoxication. The current findings support the hypothesis that mephedrone improves psychomotor performance, impairs spatial memory and does not affect divided attention performance. Stimulatory effects of mephedrone were not sufficient to compensate for the impairing effects of alcohol on most performance parameters.
Keywords: Acute; alcohol co-administration; mephedrone; psychomotor performance; spatial memory.
© The Author(s) 2016.