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How psychedelic drug psilocybin works on brain

From the June 4, 2020 article at Johns Hopkins University Medicine

Research Story Tip:
Psychedelic Drug Psilocybin Tamps Down Brain’s Ego Center

Excerpt:
“Perhaps no region of the brain is more fittingly named than the claustrum, taken from the Latin word for “hidden or shut away.” The claustrum is an extremely thin sheet of neurons deep within the cortex, yet it reaches out to every other region of the brain. Its true purpose remains “hidden away” as well, with researchers speculating about many functions. For example, Francis Crick of DNA-discovery fame believed that the claustrum is the seat of consciousness, responsible for awareness and sense of self.”

What is known is that this region contains a large number of receptors targeted by psychedelic drugs such as LSD or psilocybin — the hallucinogenic chemical found in certain mushrooms. To see what happens in the claustrum when people are on psychedelics, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers compared the brain scans of people after they took psilocybin with their scans after taking a placebo.

Their findings were published online on May 23, 2020, in the journal NeuroImage.

The scans after psilocybin use showed that the claustrum was less active, meaning the area of the brain believed responsible for setting attention and switching tasks is turned down when on the drug. The researchers say that this ties in with what people report as typical effects of psychedelic drugs, including feelings of being connected to everything and reduced senses of self or ego.

“Our findings move us one step closer to understanding mechanisms underlying how psilocybin works in the brain,” says Frederick Barrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the school’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. “This will hopefully enable us to better understand why it’s an effective therapy for certain psychiatric disorders, which might help us tailor therapies to help people more.”

Read the whole article at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/research-story-tip-psychedelic-drug-psilocybin-tamps-down-brains-ego-center

August 13, 2020 Posted by | biology, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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