Study Finds Psilocybin Increases Brain Network Integration for Depression Treatment

Study Finds Psilocybin Increases Brain Network Integration for Depression Treatment
High Times

The study, entitled “Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression,” was published in Nature Medicine on April 11. This study analyzed two other studies to learn more about how psilocybin affected the involved individuals. The first study was conducted as an open-label trial with 10mg and 25mg of psilocybin, taken seven days apart. The second study was a double-blind phase II randomized controlled trial that compared psilocybin therapy against the effects of escitalopram, which is used to treat both depression and anxiety disorder. “In both trials, the antidepressant response to psilocybin was rapid, sustained and correlated with decreases in fMRI brain network modularity, implying that psilocybin’s antidepressant action may depend on a global increase in brain network integration,” the study abstract states. The study explains that patients who are diagnosed with depression “often exhibit a negative cognitive bias, characterized by pessimism, poor cognitive flexibility, rigid thought patterns and negative fixations regarding ‘self’ and the future.” The newest study explored brain scan results, and found that there was increased brain activity during treatment, as well as up to three weeks after treatment ended (referred to as an “opening up” effect). Both of the reviewed studies found “decreased brain modularity” and “correlated with improvements in depressive symptomatology.” These results were found in both of the studies that were analyzed, confirming their hypothesis. Senior author of the study and former Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at the Imperial College London, Professor Robin Carhart-Harris, explained the researchers’ findings. “The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant,” Carhart-Harris shared. “In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it…

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