Brain Imaging Studies with Psilocybin and MDMA | 1

Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD


Abstract: Highlighting the results of two fMRI studies and one MEG study with psilocybin and an fMRI study with MDMA, Carhart-Harris will report the effects of both drugs on regional brain activity and brain network organization. Additionally, he will report the effects of both drugs on brain and subjective responses to personal autobiographical memory cues. A general theory will be presented on how psychedelics alter brain activity to alter consciousness and the implications of these brain imaging results for therapeutic applications of psychedelics will be discussed.

A general theory will be presented on how psychedelics alter brain activity to alter consciousness and the implications of these brain imaging results for therapeutic applications of psychedelics will be discussed.

Desired Outcomes for : At the conclusion of the activity, learners will be able to:

  1. Inform patients about new research into the neurobiological risks and effects of psychedelics
  2. Refer patients to clinical research studies
  3. Develop strategies for conducting their own neurobiological and neuroscientific research on psychedelics
  4. Evaluate research on psychedelic-assisted treatments as new literature becomes available

Robin Carhart-Harris completed his doctorate in psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol in 2009 after which he moved to Imperial College London to continue his fMRI research with the classic psychedelic drug psilocybin. In the last few years, Carhart-Harris & Professor David Nutt have built up a programme of research with psychedelics that includes fMRI and MEG imaging with psilocybin, fMRI with MDMA and soon an MRC-sponsored clinical trial to assess the efficacy of psilocybin as a treatment for major depression. Carhart-Harris has a review article published in Brain on the neurobiology of Freudian constructs and his work with psilocybin is now published in PNAS, the British Journal of Psychiatry, and Schizophrenia Bulletin. Carhart-Harris has been supported by the Beckley Foundation, the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation, the Heffter Foundation, and MAPS.


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