Psilocybin Studies: In Progress
Johns Hopkins Study of Psilocybin in Cancer Patients
Investigators: Roland Griffiths PhD, William Richards PhD, Matthew Johnson, Ph.D., Una McCann, M.D.
Sponsor: Heffter Research Institute, Riverstyx Foundation
This study is being done to find out if psilocybin can produce personally and spiritually meaningful experiences in cancer patients, thereby extending findings from an earlier study in our laboratory with healthy volunteers. This could be important because spirituality has been associated with increased psychological coping and decreased depression in serious illness. The study will enroll about 44 people, who will receive careful preparation and 2 sessions in which they will receive psilocybin. Structured guidance will be provided during the session and afterward to facilitate integration of the experiences.
To learn more about this study, visit the study website: http://www.cancer-insight.org
Using BOLD fMRI to measure the effects of psilocin on brain activity and connectivity
Investigators: Robin Carhart-Harris PhD, Richard Wise, Amanda Feilding, David Nutt PhD.
Sponsor: Beckley Foundation
Supporting sponsor: MAPS and Heffter Research Institute
This study is part of the Beckley Foundation/Imperial College Psychedelic Research Programme. It aims to discover how psilocin works in the brain by measuring increases and decreases in activity in different regions of the brain induced by the drug. Using analyses of functional and effective connectivity it will reveal network relationships between different regions of the brain and will show whether activity in certain brain regions is exerting a causal or driving influence over activity in other brain regions. These analyses may be very important for understanding the mechanism of action of psilocin. Based on the rationale of psychotherapeutic work with LSD and psilocybin/psilocin in the 1950s and 60s we will also address the hypothesis that psilocin lowers repression and facilitates autobiographical recollection. If this hypothesis is supported it will: 1) indicate that psilocin can facilitate the recollection of autobiographical memories 2) offer a biological explanation for how this occurs and 3) indicate how psilocin might be useful as an adjunct to dynamic psychotherapy.
A Pilot Study of Psilocybin-Facilitated Addiction Treatment
Investigators. Roland Griffiths PhD, Matt Johnson PhD,
Sponsor: Beckley Foundation
This study focuses on overcoming nicotine addiction in cigarette smokers. Psilocybin will be administered under highly supportive conditions to individuals who suffer drug dependence that has been resistant to treatment by conventional means. Participants will undergo several preparation meetings with session guides before two, day-long psilocybin sessions with a week's gap between them. Participants will meet with session guides the day after each session and weekly for 3 weeks after the last psilocybin session. To maximise the benefits of this research, we will also be looking to test the proposal that hallucinogen-induced mystical experiences may boost the immune system and thereby have important implications for health and well-being, by measuring cytokine markers of immune function before the first and after the last psilocybin session.
Effects of Psilocybin on Healthy Volunteers
Investigators: Roland Griffiths PhD, William Richards PhD, Una McCann MD, Robert Jesse
Sponsor: NIDA, Council for Spiritual Practices, Heffter Research Institute
A series of studies is planned to investigate the effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers. The first was a double-blind study evaluating the psychological effects of 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin relative to methylphenidate, 40 mg/70 kg administered under comfortable, supportive conditions to 36 hallucinogen-naive adults reporting regular participation in religious or spiritual activities. After psilocybin, 61% of the volunteers met pre-established criteria, as measured on standardized scales, for a full mystical experience, and 31% reported significant fear sometime during their psilocybin session. Two months after sessions, 71% of the volunteers rated their psilocybin experience as among the five most "spiritually significant" experiences of their lifetimes. Seventy-nine percent of volunteers rated that it had increased their current sense of personal well being or life satisfaction. Community observer (family, friends, coworkers) ratings tended to confirm this. Fourteen month follow-up data is being analyzed.
Continuing support for this research program is uncertain and the investigators are attempting to network with individuals or foundations that could help provide support. Learn more about this research: http://www.bpru.org/jhscrp_letter.pdf
- Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R. (2006) Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 187(3):268-283.
- Griffiths R, Richards W, Johnson M, McCann U, Jesse R. (2008) Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. J Psychopharmacol. 22(6):621-632.
Psilocybin Effects on Attention, Perception and Cognition
Investigators: Franz Vollenweider MD, Olivia Carter PhD, Felix Hasler MD
Psychiatric University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland...
Dr. Vollenweider and colleagues continue to study the neural correlates of consciousness and the effects of psilocybin on visual perception, attention, working memory, and time perception. Other studies will use EEG or positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.. Several published reports describe research findings, and other reports are forthcoming, or studies are underway at present.
- Carter OL, Pettigrew JD, Burr DC, Alais D, Hasler F, Vollenweider FX. (2004) Psilocybin impairs high-level but not low-level motion perception. Neuroreport 15:1947-1951.
- Carter OL, Pettigrew JD, Hasler F, Wallis GM, Liu GB, Hell D, Vollenweider FX. (2005) Modulating the rate and rhythmicity of perceptual rivalry alternations with the mixed 5-HT2A and 5-HT1A agonist psilocybin. Neuropsychopharmacology 30: 1154-1162.
- Carter OL, Burr DC, Pettigrew JD, Wallis GM, Hasler F, Vollenweider FX. (2005) Using Psilocybin to Investigate the Relationship between Attention, Working Memory, and the Serotonin 1A and 2A Receptors. J Cogn Neurosci 17:1497-1508.
- Wittmann M, Carter O, Hasler F, Cahn BR, Grimberg U, Spring P, Hell D, Flohr H, Vollenweider FX. (2007) Effects of psilocybin on time perception and temporal control of behaviour in humans. J Psychopharmacol 21 50-64.
- Vollenweider FX, Csomor PA, Knappe B, Geyer MA, Quednow BB. (2007) The effects of the preferential 5-HT2A agonist psilocybin on prepulse inhibition of startle in healthy human volunteers depend on interstimulus interval. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Published online before print.
Experimental Studies on the Effects of Psilocybin on Binocular Depth Inversion, Binocular Rivalry, N
Investigators: Torsten Passie M.D., Jrgen Seifert M.D., Udo Schneider M.D., Hinderk M. Emrich M.D., Ph.D.
Medical School Hannover, Dept. of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover, Germany
Sponsor: MAPS/Medical School Hannover, Dept. of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
This is a randomized, double-blind, active placebo-controlled study of the effects of medium doses of psilocybin in 12 healthy physicians, examining the effects of psilocybin on different neuropsychological measures, perceptual changes, synaesthesias and some subjective effects. These measures include binocular rivalry (different, or conflicting, information presented to each eye) and the "hollow mask" paradigm, measures examining changes in central processing of visual perception. The study is fully approved. MAPS has donated $3,000 for the purchase of 250 milligrams of psilocybin, insurance, and other expenses. Six of twelve subjects have now been enrolled in this study. So far, subjects have not experienced any complications. The setting is designed so that subjects have some quiet times for self-exploration. It seems that they have had some healing passages in their experiences. The study was completed in 2010 and will be published soon.
Read more about this study