Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Lysergic acid diethylamide


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is the prototypical psychedelic drug, but its effects on the human brain have never been studied before with modern neuroimaging. Here, three complementary neuroimaging techniques: arterial spin labeling (ASL), blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) measures, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), implemented during resting state conditions, revealed marked changes in brain activity after LSD that correlated strongly with its characteristic psychological effects. Increased visual cortex cerebral blood flow (CBF), decreased visual cortex alpha power, and a greatly expanded primary visual cortex (V1) functional connectivity profile correlated strongly with ratings of visual hallucinations, implying that intrinsic brain activity exerts greater influence on visual processing in the psychedelic state, thereby defining its hallucinatory quality. LSD’s marked effects on the visual cortex did not significantly correlate with the drug’s other characteristic effects on consciousness, however. Rather, decreased connectivity between the parahippocampus and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) correlated strongly with ratings of “ego-dissolution” and “altered meaning,” implying the importance of this particular circuit for the maintenance of “self” or “ego” and its processing of “meaning.” Strong relationships were also found between the different imaging metrics, enabling firmer inferences to be made about their functional significance. This uniquely comprehensive examination of the LSD state represents an important advance in scientific research with psychedelic drugs at a time of growing interest in their scientific and therapeutic value. The present results contribute important new insights into the characteristic hallucinatory and consciousness-altering properties of psychedelics that inform on how they can model certain pathological states and potentially treat others.

Concepts: Nervous system, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Timothy Leary


Use of unauthorized synthetic drugs is a serious, forensic, regulatory and public health issue. In this scenario, consumption of drug-impregnated blotters is very frequent. For decades, blotters have been generally impregnated with the potent hallucinogen known as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); however, since 2013 blotter stamps with N-2 methoxybenzyl-substituted phenylethylamine hallucinogen designated as “NBOMes” have been seized in Chile. To address this issue with readily accessible laboratory equipment, we have developed and validated a new HPTLC method for the identification and quantitation of 25-C-NBOMe in seized blotters and its confirmation by GC-MS. The proposed method was validated according to SWGTOX recommendations and is suitable for routine analysis of seized blotters containing 25-C-NBOMe. With the validated method, we analyzed 15 real samples, in all cases finding 25-C-NBOMe in a wide dosage range (701.0-1943.5 µg per blotter). In this situation, we can assume that NBOMes are replacing LSD as the main hallucinogenic drug consumed in blotters in Chile.

Concepts: Drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Ergoline


Ayahuasca is a natural psychedelic brew, which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Its potential as a psychiatric medicine has recently been demonstrated and its non-medical use around the world appears to be growing. We aimed to investigate well-being and problematic alcohol use in ayahuasca users, and ayahuasca’s subjective effects. An online, self-selecting, global survey examining patterns of drug use was conducted in 2015 and 2016 (n = 96,901). Questions were asked about: use of ayahuasca, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and magic mushrooms; demographics, current well-being and past-year problematic alcohol use of past-year ayahuasca users and comparison drug users; and subjective effects of ayahuasca and comparison drugs. Ayahuasca users (n = 527) reported greater well-being than both classic psychedelic users (n = 18,138) and non-psychedelic drug-using respondents (n = 78,236). Ayahuasca users reported less problematic drinking than classic psychedelic users, although both groups reported greater problematic drinking than the other respondents. Ayahuasca’s acute subjective effects usually lasted for six hours and were most strongly felt one hour after consumption. Within our online, self-selecting survey, ayahuasca users reported better well-being than comparison groups and less problematic drinking than classic psychedelic users. Future longitudinal studies of international samples and randomised controlled trials are needed to dissect the effects of ayahuasca on these outcomes.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Drug addiction, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psilocybin mushrooms, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Dimethyltryptamine


Recent studies have started to elucidate the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on the human brain but the underlying dynamics are not yet fully understood. Here we used ‘connectome-harmonic decomposition’, a novel method to investigate the dynamical changes in brain states. We found that LSD alters the energy and the power of individual harmonic brain states in a frequency-selective manner. Remarkably, this leads to an expansion of the repertoire of active brain states, suggestive of a general re-organization of brain dynamics given the non-random increase in co-activation across frequencies. Interestingly, the frequency distribution of the active repertoire of brain states under LSD closely follows power-laws indicating a re-organization of the dynamics at the edge of criticality. Beyond the present findings, these methods open up for a better understanding of the complex brain dynamics in health and disease.

Concepts: Brain, Disease, Human brain, Cerebellum, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Magnetoencephalography


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is used recreationally and has been evaluated as an adjunct to psychotherapy to treat anxiety in patients with life-threatening illness. LSD is well-known to induce perceptual alterations, but unknown is whether LSD alters emotional processing in ways that can support psychotherapy. We investigated the acute effects of LSD on emotional processing using the Face Emotion Recognition Task (FERT) and Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET). The effects of LSD on social behavior were tested using the Social Value Orientation (SVO) test. Two similar placebo-controlled, double-blind, random-order, cross-over studies were conducted using 100 μg LSD in 24 subjects and 200 μg LSD in 16 subjects. All of the subjects were healthy and mostly hallucinogen-naive 25- to 65-year-old volunteers (20 men, 20 women). LSD produced feelings of happiness, trust, closeness to others, enhanced explicit and implicit emotional empathy on the MET, and impaired the recognition of sad and fearful faces on the FERT. LSD enhanced the participants' desire to be with other people and increased their prosocial behavior on the SVO test. These effects of LSD on emotion processing and sociality may be useful for LSD-assisted psychotherapy.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 01 June 2016. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.82.

Concepts: Psychology, Empathy, Emotion, Fear, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a non-selective serotonin-receptor agonist that was first synthesized in 1938 and identified as (potently) psychoactive in 1943. Psychedelics have been used by indigenous cultures for millennia [1]; however, because of LSD’s unique potency and the timing of its discovery (coinciding with a period of major discovery in psychopharmacology), it is generally regarded as the quintessential contemporary psychedelic [2]. LSD has profound modulatory effects on consciousness and was used extensively in psychological research and psychiatric practice in the 1950s and 1960s [3]. In spite of this, however, there have been no modern human imaging studies of its acute effects on the brain. Here we studied the effects of LSD on intrinsic functional connectivity within the human brain using fMRI. High-level association cortices (partially overlapping with the default-mode, salience, and frontoparietal attention networks) and the thalamus showed increased global connectivity under the drug. The cortical areas showing increased global connectivity overlapped significantly with a map of serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor densities (the key site of action of psychedelic drugs [4]). LSD also increased global integration by inflating the level of communication between normally distinct brain networks. The increase in global connectivity observed under LSD correlated with subjective reports of “ego dissolution.” The present results provide the first evidence that LSD selectively expands global connectivity in the brain, compromising the brain’s modular and “rich-club” organization and, simultaneously, the perceptual boundaries between the self and the environment.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Serotonin, Psychoactive drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid


The serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) with a conserved disulfide bridge formed by Cys(148) (transmembrane helix 3, TM3) and Cys(227) (extracellular loop 2, ECL-2). We hypothesized that disulfide bridges may determine serotonin 5-HT2A receptor functions such as receptor activation, functional selectivity and ligand recognition. We used the reducing agent dithiothreitol (DTT) to determine how the reduction of disulfide bridges affects radioligand binding, second messenger mobilization and receptor dimerization. A DTT-induced decrease in the number of binding sites (1190 ± 63.55 fmol/mg protein for control cells compared with 921.2 ± 60.84 fmol/mg protein for DTT-treated cells) as well as in the efficacy of both signalling pathways characterized was observed, although the affinity and potency were unchanged. Bioluminiscence resonance energy transfer (BRET) assays revealed the DTT treatment did not modify the homodimeric nature of serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. In molecular dynamic simulations, the ECL-2 of the receptor with a broken cysteine bond adopts a wider variety of conformations, some of which protrude deeper into the receptor orthosteric binding pocket leading to collapse of the pocket. A shrunken binding pocket would be incapable of accommodating lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Our findings suggest that the decrease of efficacy may be due to disruption of disulfide bridge between TM3 and ECL-2. This reveals the integrity of the ECL-2 epitope, which should be explored in the development of novel ligands acting as allosteric modulators of serotonin 5-HT2A receptors.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Receptor, Disulfide bond, Serotonin, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Radioligand


A core aspect of the human self is the attribution of personal relevance to everyday stimuli enabling us to experience our environment as meaningful [1]. However, abnormalities in the attribution of personal relevance to sensory experiences are also critical features of many psychiatric disorders [2, 3]. Despite their clinical relevance, the neurochemical and anatomical substrates enabling meaningful experiences are largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated the neuropharmacology of personal relevance processing in humans by combining fMRI and the administration of the mixed serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine receptor ® agonist lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), well known to alter the subjective meaning of percepts, with and without pretreatment with the 5-HT2AR antagonist ketanserin. General subjective LSD effects were fully blocked by ketanserin. In addition, ketanserin inhibited the LSD-induced attribution of personal relevance to previously meaningless stimuli and modulated the processing of meaningful stimuli in cortical midline structures. These findings point to the crucial role of the 5-HT2AR subtype and cortical midline regions in the generation and attribution of personal relevance. Our results thus increase our mechanistic understanding of personal relevance processing and reveal potential targets for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses characterized by alterations in personal relevance attribution.

Concepts: Serotonin, Agonist, Amphetamine, 5-HT2C receptor, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, 5-HT2A receptor, LSD


A double-blind, randomized, active placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted to examine safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy in 12 patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Treatment included drug-free psychotherapy sessions supplemented by two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. The participants received either 200 μg of LSD (n = 8) or 20 μg of LSD with an open-label crossover to 200 μg of LSD after the initial blinded treatment was unmasked (n = 4). At the 2-month follow-up, positive trends were found via the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in reductions in trait anxiety (p = 0.033) with an effect size of 1.1, and state anxiety was significantly reduced (p = 0.021) with an effect size of 1.2, with no acute or chronic adverse effects persisting beyond 1 day after treatment or treatment-related serious adverse events. STAI reductions were sustained for 12 months. These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Randomized controlled trial, Neuroticism, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Creative Commons


A recent large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin or mescaline) and mental health problems. Using a new data set consisting of 135,095 randomly selected United States adults, including 19,299 psychedelic users, we examine the associations between psychedelic use and mental health. After adjusting for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression, we found no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety. We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems. Psychedelics are not known to harm the brain or other body organs or to cause addiction or compulsive use; serious adverse events involving psychedelics are extremely rare. Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure.

Concepts: Psychology, Mental disorder, Bipolar disorder, Suicide, Parasuicide, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Timothy Leary