New insight into the mechanism of action of psychedelics and its relevance for mood disorders

by · Oct 1, 2016 · 350 views ·

New advances in our understanding of the neurobiology of psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin and ketamine have led to renewed interest in the clinical potential of psychedelics in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders (Vollenweider and Kometer 2010). Specifically, recent behavioural and neuroimaging data show that psychedelics interact with neurotransmitter systems and modulate neural circuits that have been implicated in mood and affective disorders. In this lecture I will review recent findings showing that psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD enhance empathy, reduce the neural response to negative emotional stimuli and ameliorate social pain in key brain regions responsible for emotion processing and social interactions. Moreover, I will discuss recent findings indicating that the serotonin 5HT2A receptor and downstream effects upon the glutamate system appear to be critical for the lasting positive effects of serotonergic psychedelics on emotional and socio-cognitive functioning. Notably, the increasing understanding of the molecular mechanism of action of psychedelics offers a promising avenue to identify novel targets for the treatment of affective disorders. Vollenweider FX, Kometer M (2010): The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11: 642-651 Preller KH, Pokorny T, Hock A, Kraehenmann R, Stämpfli P, Seifritz E, Scheidegger M, Vollenweider FX (2016): Effects of serotonin 2A/1A receptor stimulation on social exclusion processing, PNAS, 113(18): 5119-5124

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