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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


BibTex format

author = {Gatica, M and Cofré, R and Mediano, PAM and Rosas, FE and Orio, P and Diez, I and Swinnen, SP and Cortes, JM},
doi = {10.1089/brain.2020.0982},
journal = {Brain Connect},
title = {High-Order Interdependencies in the Aging Brain.},
url = {},
year = {2021}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Background: Brain interdependencies can be studied from either a structural/anatomical perspective ("structural connectivity") or by considering statistical interdependencies ("functional connectivity" [FC]). Interestingly, while structural connectivity is by definition pairwise (white-matter fibers project from one region to another), FC is not. However, most FC analyses only focus on pairwise statistics and they neglect higher order interactions. A promising tool to study high-order interdependencies is the recently proposed O-Information, which can quantify the intrinsic statistical synergy and the redundancy in groups of three or more interacting variables. Methods: We analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data obtained at rest from 164 healthy subjects with ages ranging in 10 to 80 years and used O-Information to investigate how high-order statistical interdependencies are affected by age. Results: Older participants (from 60 to 80 years old) exhibited a higher predominance of redundant dependencies compared with younger participants, an effect that seems to be pervasive as it is evident for all orders of interaction. In addition, while there is strong heterogeneity across brain regions, we found a "redundancy core" constituted by the prefrontal and motor cortices in which redundancy was evident at all the interaction orders studied. Discussion: High-order interdependencies in fMRI data reveal a dominant redundancy in functions such as working memory, executive, and motor functions. Our methodology can be used for a broad range of applications, and the corresponding code is freely available.
AU - Gatica,M
AU - Cofré,R
AU - Mediano,PAM
AU - Rosas,FE
AU - Orio,P
AU - Diez,I
AU - Swinnen,SP
AU - Cortes,JM
DO - 10.1089/brain.2020.0982
PY - 2021///
TI - High-Order Interdependencies in the Aging Brain.
T2 - Brain Connect
UR -
UR -
ER -