Episode 8: David E. Nichols – LSD and Neuroscience – MAPS Podcast
Originally appearing here.
Taken from the Psychedelic Science ’13 conference this epic talk from Heffter Research Institute Founder, David E. Nichols, explores the depths of the brains relationship with LSD. This talk will provide a foundation for understanding the importance of 5-HT2A receptors in the brain, now widely believed to be the key brain target for psychedelics. The study of this G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) has required research efforts across several disciplines. Although it was initially thought to couple only to Gq, leading to activation of phospholipase C, it is now known to couple to multiple intracellular signaling pathways. The unique psychopharmacological properties of psychedelics clearly demonstrate that this receptor has special importance as a critical component of sensory perception in humans, and by extension, may be a key player in mediating consciousness. David E. Nichols is the founding president of the Heffter Research Institute, named after German chemist and pharmacologist Arthur Heffter, who first discovered that mescaline was the active component in the peyote cactus. In 2004 he was named the Irwin H. Page Lecturer by the International Serotonin Club, and delivered an address in Portugal titled, “35 years studying psychedelics: what a long strange trip it’s been.” Among pharmacologists, he is considered to be one of the world’s top experts on psychedelics. Nichols’s other professional activities include teaching medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, and teaching medical students at the Indiana University School of Medicine.