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Pioneering research

In the last decade, a number of research groups in Europe and the Americas have conducted studies into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research is the first to gain this level of stature within a major academic institution.

When delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris

Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research

Ours was the first Centre in the world to investigate the brain effects of LSD using modern brain imaging and the first to study psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – for treating severe depression. These studies have laid the groundwork for larger trials that are now taking place around the world. Other pioneering work from the group includes breakthrough neuroimaging research with psilocybin, MDMA and DMT (the psychoactive compounds found in ecstasy and ayahuasca respectively).

Earlier this year the group began a new trial directly comparing psilocybin therapy with a conventional antidepressant drug in patients with depression – a study for which they are still recruiting volunteers. Building on this, they also plan to begin another new trial next year to explore the safety and feasibility of psilocybin for treating patients with anorexia.

Dr Carhart-Harris adds: “It may take a few years for psychedelic therapy to be available for patients, but research so far has been very encouraging. Early stage clinical research has shown that when delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions and may one day offer new hope to vulnerable people with limited treatment options.”


If you are a student interested in conducting research with our Centre, please see the page join our research team.

Research publications

Citation

BibTex format

@article{Erritzoe:2019:10.1177/0269881119827891,
author = {Erritzoe, D and Smith, J and Fisher, PM and Carhart-Harris, R and Frokjaer, VG and Knudsen, GM},
doi = {10.1177/0269881119827891},
journal = {J Psychopharmacol},
pages = {269881119827891--269881119827891},
title = {Recreational use of psychedelics is associated with elevated personality trait openness: Exploration of associations with brain serotonin markers.},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881119827891},
year = {2019}
}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

TY  - JOUR
AB - BACKGROUND:: Recent studies have suggested therapeutic benefits of psychedelics for a variety of mental health conditions. The understanding of how single psychedelic administrations can induce long-lasting effects are, in large, still lacking. However, recent studies in both healthy and clinical populations suggest a role for personality changes. AIM:: To test support for some of these plausible mechanisms we evaluated (cross-sectional) associations between recreational use of psychedelics and 3,4-methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and (a) personality measures and (b) key markers of cerebral serotonergic signalling (serotonin transporter and serotonin-2A-receptor binding). METHODS:: In 10 psychedelic-preferring recreational users, 14 MDMA-preferring users and 21 non-using controls, personality was assessed using the 'big five' instrument Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). Frontal serotonin transporter and serotonin-2A-receptor binding potentials were quantified using [11C]DASB and [18F]altanserin positron emission tomography, respectively. RESULTS:: Of the five NEO-PI-R traits, only openness to experience scores differed between the three groups; psychedelic-preferring recreational users showing higher openness to experience scores when compared with both MDMA-preferring users and controls. Openness to experience scores were positively associated with lifetime number of psychedelic exposures, and among all MDMA-preferring user/psychedelic-preferring recreational user individuals, frontal serotonin transporter binding - but not frontal serotonin-2A-receptor binding - was positively associated with openness to experience. CONCLUSION:: Our findings from this cross-sectional study support increasing evidence of a positive association between psychedelic experiences and openness to experience, and (a) expands this to the context of 'recreational' psychedelics use, and (b) links serotonergic neurotransmission to openness to experience. A modulation of perso
AU - Erritzoe,D
AU - Smith,J
AU - Fisher,PM
AU - Carhart-Harris,R
AU - Frokjaer,VG
AU - Knudsen,GM
DO - 10.1177/0269881119827891
EP - 269881119827891
PY - 2019///
SP - 269881119827891
TI - Recreational use of psychedelics is associated with elevated personality trait openness: Exploration of associations with brain serotonin markers.
T2 - J Psychopharmacol
UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881119827891
UR - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30816797
ER -