Psychedelic Science 2020 Webinar Series – Psychedelics and the Brain (Online)

April 16, 2020

From the event website:

Psychedelics and the Brain

Featuring Katrin Preller, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 16, 2020, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Pacific

Biological Effects of Psychedelics in Human Brain Organoids
For more than four decades, restrictions on research with psychedelics have abrogated the comprehension of how such substances impact brain metabolism. Besides the historical restrictions, studies have also been compromised by the limitations of adequate models. In the last few years, progress has been made regarding biological approaches that recreate features of the human brain in the laboratory. I will present describe effects of the β-carboline alkaloid harmine, N,N-dimethyltryptamine (NN-DMT), 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and d-Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in human brain tissues developed in our laboratory. Harmine and NN-DMT increased the number of neural stem cells. These results suggest that these substances influence neurogenesis, which is probably associated with the antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca described in patients. Moreover, human neurons exposed to NN-DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and LSD revealed an increase in synaptic proteins associated with communication among brain cells. Our data contribute to elucidate neuroplasticity signaling pathways influenced by psychedelics. This project is supported by Brazilian Funding Agencies, D’Or Institute and the Beckley Foundation.

The Effects of Psychedelics on the Human Brain
Due to their unique effects on consciousness, psychedelics offer the opportunity to investigate the neuropharmacological mechanisms underlying alterations in perception and cognition. Furthermore, renewed interest in the potentially beneficial clinical effects of psychedelics warrants a better understanding of their underlying neuropharmacological mechanisms. However, major knowledge gaps remain regarding the neurobiology of psychedelics in humans. This talk will elucidate how LSD and Psilocybin modulate brain connectivity and subjective effects via agonistic activity on the serotonin 2A receptor in humans. In particular, psychedelic-induced alteration in brain connectivity are characterized by a synchronization of sensory functional networks and dis-integration of associative networks. Furthermore, our studies have shown that LSD changes thalamic gating to the cortex. Additionally, psychedelics have been shown to be powerful modulators of social processing and behavior. These new results provide insight into the mechanisms potentially underlying clinical efficacy of these substances and inform novel treatment approaches.

Katrin Preller, Ph.D., received her M.Sc. (Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology) from University of Konstanz, Germany. For her Ph.D., Dr. Preller joined the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland, where she investigated the neurobiological and social-cognitive long-term effects of cocaine, MDMA, and heroin use. After completing her Ph.D., she joined the Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Lab at the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, investigating the effects of psychedelic substances on self-perception, social cognition, and multimodal processing using different brain imaging techniques. Dr. Preller received a SNSF PostDoc mobility fellowship and worked as a postdoc at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, U.C.L., London, U.K., and Yale University, New Haven, C.T., U.S.A. Subsequently, she was appointed as Junior Group Leader at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Zurich, and holds a position as Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Preller is a recipient of the Pfizer Research Award and the Swiss Society for Biological Psychiatry Young investigators award. Her group’s research focus is centered on the neurobiology and pharmacology of cognitive and emotional processes in heath and disease using multi-modal behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques, the development of novel treatment approaches, and the interaction between pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments.

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