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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Apr 26;113(17):4853-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518377113. Epub 2016 Apr 11.

Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging.

Author information

1
Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom; r.carhart-harris@imperial.ac.uk.
2
Department of Psychology, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, CF10 3AT, Cardiff, United Kingdom; School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, 1142 Auckland, New Zealand; School of Psychology, University of Auckland, 1142 Auckland, New Zealand;
3
Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom; Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom;
4
Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom;
5
Department of Psychology, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, CF10 3AT, Cardiff, United Kingdom;
6
Institute of Medical Psychology, Christian Albrechts University, 24118 Kiel, Germany; Brain Imaging Center and Neurology Department, Goethe University, 60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany;
7
Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom; Department of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, 04038-020, São Paulo, Brazil; Instituto Plantando Consciencia, 05.587-080, São Paulo, Brazil;
8
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, H3A 1A1, Montréal, Canada;
9
Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom;
10
Department of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, BS8 2BN, Bristol, United Kingdom;
11
Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, London, United Kingdom; Department of Neuroscience, Cardiff University, CF24 4HQ, Cardiff, United Kingdom;
12
Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging, WC1H 0AP, London, United Kingdom;
13
Eschelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27514;
14
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London, WC1E 6BT, London, United Kingdom;
15
The Beckley Foundation, Beckley Park, OX3 9SY, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is the prototypical psychedelic drug, but its effects on the human brain have never been studied before with modern neuroimaging. Here, three complementary neuroimaging techniques: arterial spin labeling (ASL), blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) measures, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), implemented during resting state conditions, revealed marked changes in brain activity after LSD that correlated strongly with its characteristic psychological effects. Increased visual cortex cerebral blood flow (CBF), decreased visual cortex alpha power, and a greatly expanded primary visual cortex (V1) functional connectivity profile correlated strongly with ratings of visual hallucinations, implying that intrinsic brain activity exerts greater influence on visual processing in the psychedelic state, thereby defining its hallucinatory quality. LSD's marked effects on the visual cortex did not significantly correlate with the drug's other characteristic effects on consciousness, however. Rather, decreased connectivity between the parahippocampus and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) correlated strongly with ratings of "ego-dissolution" and "altered meaning," implying the importance of this particular circuit for the maintenance of "self" or "ego" and its processing of "meaning." Strong relationships were also found between the different imaging metrics, enabling firmer inferences to be made about their functional significance. This uniquely comprehensive examination of the LSD state represents an important advance in scientific research with psychedelic drugs at a time of growing interest in their scientific and therapeutic value. The present results contribute important new insights into the characteristic hallucinatory and consciousness-altering properties of psychedelics that inform on how they can model certain pathological states and potentially treat others.

KEYWORDS:

LSD; brain; consciousness; psychedelic; serotonin

PMID:
27071089
PMCID:
PMC4855588
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1518377113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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