OPEN Foundation

Day: 1 October 2005

Using Psilocybin to Investigate the Relationship between Attention, Working Memory, and the Serotonin 1A and 2A Receptors

Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests a link between attention, working memory, serotonin (5-HT), and prefrontal cortex activity. In an attempt to tease out the relationship between these elements, this study tested the effects of the hallucinogenic mixed 5-HT1A/2A receptor agonist psilocybin alone and after pretreatment with the 5-HT2A antagonist ketanserin. Eight healthy human volunteers were tested on a multiple-object tracking task and spatial working memory task under the four conditions: placebo, psilocybin (215 Ag/kg), ketanserin (50 mg), and psilocybin and ketanserin. Psilocybin significantly reduced attentional tracking ability, but had no significant effect on spatial working memory, suggesting a functional dissociation between the two tasks. Pretreatment with ketanserin did not attenuate the effect of psilocybin on attentional performance, suggesting a primary involvement of the 5-HT1A receptor in the observed deficit. Based on physiological and pharmacological data, we speculate that this impaired attentional performance may reflect a reduced ability to suppress or ignore distracting stimuli rather than reduced attentional capacity. The clinical relevance of these results is also discussed.

Carter, O. L., Burr, D. C., Pettigrew, J. D., Wallis, G. M., Hasler, F., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2005). Using psilocybin to investigate the relationship between attention, working memory, and the serotonin 1A and 2A receptors. Journal of Cognitive neuroscience, 17(10), 1497-1508. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/089892905774597191
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Psychological effects of (S)-ketamine and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT): a double-blind, cross-over study in healthy volunteers

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:
Pharmacological challenges with hallucinogens are used as models for psychosis in experimental research. The state induced by glutamate antagonists such as phencyclidine (PCP) is often considered as a more appropriate model of psychosis than the state induced by serotonergic hallucinogens such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). However, so far, the psychological profiles of the two types of hallucinogenic drugs have never been studied directly in an experimental within-subject design.

METHODS:
Fifteen healthy volunteers were included in a double-blind, cross-over study with two doses of the serotonin 5-HT2A agonist DMT and the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist (S)-ketamine.

RESULTS:
Data are reported for nine subjects who completed both experimental days with both doses of the two drugs. The intensity of global psychological effects was similar for DMT and (S)-ketamine. However, phenomena resembling positive symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly positive formal thought disorder and inappropriate affect, were stronger after DMT. Phenomena resembling negative symptoms of schizophrenia, attention deficits, body perception disturbances and catatonia-like motor phenomena were stronger after (S)-ketamine.

DISCUSSION:
The present study suggests that the NMDA antagonist model of psychosis is not overall superior to the serotonin 5-HT2A agonist model. Rather, the two classes of drugs tend to model different aspects or types of schizophrenia. The NMDA antagonist state may be an appropriate model for psychoses with prominent negative and possibly also catatonic features, while the 5-HT2A agonist state may be a better model for psychoses of the paranoid type.

Gouzoulis-Mayfrank, E., Heekeren, K., Neukirch, A., Stoll, M., Stock, C., Obradovic, M., & Kovar, K .A. (2005). Psychological effects of (S)-ketamine and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT): a double-blind, cross-over study in healthy volunteers. Pharmacopsychiatry, 38(6), 301-311. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-2005-916185
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