Retinafunk, Flickr

Scientists have found that the drug ecstasy can cause people to be more trusting of others, reports New Scientist.

Why it matters: A key challenge in treating post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotherapy is fostering trust between patients and their therapists. The Medical University of South Carolina's Michael Mithoefer, who is investigating whether ecstasy can be used to relieve PTSD, cautioned there are still open questions about how the drug works but told New Scientist, "it may help people trust their therapist more and prevent them from being overwhelmed by their traumatic memories during therapy."

Researchers at King's College London gave 20 men ecstasy and scanned their brains while they played a classic social science game called the Prisoner's Dilemma. (According to the game, it is never wise to cooperate with your opponent yet people do.) Players cooperated twice as often after they took ecstasy compared to when they were given a placebo but only if their opponent (a computer) also cooperated, building the person's trust that they weren't going to be betrayed. If the computer did betray them, the players were less cooperative -- ecstasy or not.

The concern: The use of ecstasy is being limited to the first few sessions of therapy in trials but some psychologists worry even that could lead to unintended abuse. "It sends the message that this drug will help you solve your problems, when often it just creates problems," psychologist Andrew Parrott told the New York Times last fall. "This is a messy drug we know can do damage."

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Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
9 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
9 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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