Cognitive Deficits and Synthetic Khat-Related Cathinones

Vincent Carfagno, Jonna M. Leyrer-Jackson, M. Foster Olive

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The psychoactive shrub Catha edulis (khat or qat) has been used by humans for centuries due to the psychoactive properties of its endogenous alkaloid cathinone. In recent years, synthetic derivatives of cathinone, herein referred to as synthetic cathinones and colloquially referred to as “bath salts,” have infiltrated drug markets worldwide. As a result, evidence of abuse, dependence, toxicity, and adverse cognitive effects has emerged. In this chapter, we will provide a brief overview of synthetic cathinones and their neuropharmacological mechanisms of action. Next, we will review the adverse cognitive effects of acute and chronic exposure to synthetic cathinones in both animals and humans. Finally, we will provide a hypothetic model of potential mechanisms, at the level of both cellular toxicity and neuroinflammation, that may underlie the neurocognitive dysfunction induced by this class of abused substances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Substance Misuse and Addictions
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Biology to Public Health
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030923921
ISBN (Print)9783030923914
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cathinone
  • Cognition
  • Derivative
  • Fluency
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Object recognition
  • Oxidative stress
  • Psychostimulant
  • Synthetic
  • Verbal recall
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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