• Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Psychedelics & Role Of Memory In Healing Process, New Trial Led By Univ. Of Wisconsin

ByLara Goldstein

Nov 10, 2022
Psychedelics & Role Of Memory In Healing Process, New Trial Led By Univ. Of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances (TCRPS) was created to foster education and research on the field of medical applications of psychedelics, and one of them is specifically studying if remembering the psychedelic-induced hallucinations is a fundamental part of these substances’ therapeutic effects.

The center’s director and a researcher in cancer and palliative care at the university’s school of pharmacy Dr. Paul Hutson explained that the “psychoactive substances” category includes drugs both holding hallucinogenic and non-hallucinogenic effects, which may have a wide range of direct mental health treatment applications.

The TCRPS seeks to collaborate both on campus and at a local level, it is currently leading a total of five clinical trials and plans to begin another two.

The study is evaluating the need for patients to actively remember their psychedelic experience so as to receive its transformative effects. Thus, the trial is trying to reply to the question of whether the psychedelic itself provides a mind-altering therapeutic effect or if a person actually must have hallucinations to receive the drug’s benefit. 

The interesting note is how the trial will do that: physicians will administer psilocybin together with doses of midazolam -a drug intended to block the memory of the psychedelic trip.

Brain activity is typically measured through EEGs and MRIs during and after some sessions, directly after which -and often weeks later- patients are debriefed and the impact of their experience is discussed.  

TCRPS’ executive committee members Dr. Randall Brown and Dr. Christopher Nicholas co-lead several of the trials. On the memory study, Dr. Nicholas explained: “If [patients] don’t remember their experience, but still show improvement on measures of well-being and behavior change, then we can say, well, some part of the way psychedelics works is through the psychopharmacology and not just the subjective personal meaning that they get from them.”

Both physicians agree that, in general terms, one of the difficulties when conducting psychedelic research is the time and uptake for each participant -numbers can be up to 80 hours of personnel costs per participant- in order to ensure safety.

As for patient recruitment, Dr. Nicholas said the center intends to bring in a demographically diverse representation of participants. “We want to find out how generalizable this work really can be clinically and how many people this work can really be an appropriate treatment for.”

The TCRPS started an online graduate program, though undergrads are encouraged to join in as well, on science in psychoactive pharmaceutical research within the UW to help educate future leaders and facilitators in the field. 

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Image and article originally from www.benzinga.com. Read the original article here.