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Dreamlike effects of LSD on waking imagery in humans depend on serotonin 2A receptor activation

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Abstract

RATIONALE:
Accumulating evidence indicates that the mixed serotonin and dopamine receptor agonist lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) induces an altered state of consciousness that resembles dreaming.
OBJECTIVES:
This study aimed to test the hypotheses that LSD produces dreamlike waking imagery and that this imagery depends on 5-HT2A receptor activation and is related to subjective drug effects.
METHODS:
Twenty-five healthy subjects performed an audiorecorded guided mental imagery task 7 h after drug administration during three drug conditions: placebo, LSD (100 mcg orally) and LSD together with the 5-HT2A receptor antagonist ketanserin (40 mg orally). Cognitive bizarreness of guided mental imagery reports was quantified as a standardised formal measure of dream mentation. State of consciousness was evaluated using the Altered State of Consciousness (5D-ASC) questionnaire.
RESULTS:
LSD, compared with placebo, significantly increased cognitive bizarreness (p < 0.001). The LSD-induced increase in cognitive bizarreness was positively correlated with the LSD-induced loss of self-boundaries and cognitive control (p < 0.05). Both LSD-induced increases in cognitive bizarreness and changes in state of consciousness were fully blocked by ketanserin.
CONCLUSIONS:
LSD produced mental imagery similar to dreaming, primarily via activation of the 5-HT2A receptor and in relation to loss of self-boundaries and cognitive control. Future psychopharmacological studies should assess the differential contribution of the D2/D1 and 5-HT1A receptors to cognitive bizarreness.
Kraehenmann, R., Pokorny, D., Vollenweider, L., Preller, K. H., Pokorny, T., Seifritz, E., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2017). Dreamlike effects of LSD on waking imagery in humans depend on serotonin 2A receptor activation. Psychopharmacology, 1-16. 10.1007/s00213-017-4610-0
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