Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hallucinogen May Have Power to Improve Depression

Despite the problems that come with use of hallucinogens, scientists are optimistic that that the hallucinogen psilocybin, found in some mushroom species, may be able to improve symptoms of depression. Researchers affiliated with Imperial College London studied 30 volunteers who were given psilocybin intravenously and then undewent magnetic resonance imaging. They reported in the January 24 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that "Activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is hyperactive in depression, was consistently lowered." One of the researchers, Professor David Nutt, has applied for permission to carry out a study using the hallucinogen in a small sample of depressed patients. In an upcoming issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, the same researchers will report that psilocybin "enhanced volunteers' recollections of positive personal memories, compared with those who took a placebo."

Psychiatric News recently reported on another study of psilocybin, this one by Johns Hopkins researchers, in which the substance was associated with positive changes in a personality trait. Read about that study here.

(image: Peter Doomen/Shutterstock.com)


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