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Psilocybin-Induced Deficits in Automatic and Controlled Inhibition are Attenuated by Ketanserin in Healthy Human Volunteers

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Abstract

The serotonin-2A receptor (5-HT2AR) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and related inhibitory gating and behavioral inhibition deficits of schizophrenia patients. The hallucinogen psilocybin disrupts automatic forms of sensorimotor gating and response inhibition in humans, but it is unclear so far whether the 5-HT2AR or 5-HT1AR agonist properties of its bioactive metabolite psilocin account for these effects. Thus, we investigated whether psilocybin-induced deficits in automatic and controlled inhibition in healthy humans could be attenuated by the 5-HT2A/2CR antagonist ketanserin. A total of 16 healthy participants received placebo,ketanserin (40 mg p.o.), psilocybin (260 µg/kg p.o.), or psilocybin plus ketanserin in a double-blind, randomized, and counterbalanced order. Sensorimotor gating was measured by prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response. The effects on psychopathological core dimensions and behavioral inhibition were assessed by the altered states of consciousness questionnaire (5D-ASC), and the Color-Word Stroop Test. Psilocybin decreased PPI at short lead intervals (30 ms), increased all 5D-ASC scores, and selectively increased errors in the interference condition of the Stroop Test. Stroop interference and Stroop effect of the response latencies were increased under psilocybin as well. Psilocybin-induced alterations were attenuated by ketanserin pretreatment, whereas ketanserin alone had no significant effects. These findings suggest that the disrupting effects of psilocybin on automatic and controlled inhibition processes are attributable to 5-HT2AR stimulation. Sensorimotor gating and attentional control deficits of schizophrenia patients might be due to changes within the 5-HT2AR system.

Quednow, B. B., Kometer, M., Geyerand, M. A., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2012). Psilocybin-Induced Deficits in Automatic and Controlled Inhibition are Attenuated by Ketanserin in Healthy Human Volunteers. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37, 630-640. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.228
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