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Psychedelics

Division Launch Announcement – March 30, 2021

After decades of scientific suppression, a handful of intrepid researchers have pushed through major barriers to examine the power of psychedelic therapy to treat the ailing human mind. Their research has recovered a path towards a particularly deep quality of care and healing.

The timeliness of these advances cannot be overstated. Over half a billion people on our planet are suffering from the debilitating effects of mental health conditions, and the burden is increasing. Meanwhile, we continue to recycle the same short list of modestly effective, side-effect inducing drugs. We can do better.

The Neuroscape Psychedelic Division is dedicated to advancing the field of psychedelic science and medicine through multi-level research covering basic to translational to clinical science. Our research is dedicated to the delivery of breakthrough discoveries in psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience.

Robin Carhart-Harris
Director, Psychedelics Division

Basic Science

The advancement of all novel therapeutics is aided by a deep appreciation of their underlying mechanism of action. Over the last several decades, we have developed a scientific basis for how psychedelics result in beneficial effects across a wide range of clinical conditions, but there are still major gaps in our understanding. The Neuroscape Psychedelic Division, hand-in hand with our Neuroscience Division, will advance the basic science behind the positive effects of psychedelics on the brain and behavior by studying their influence on neural network dynamics and long-term neuroplasticity in healthy human research participants.

Our upcoming studies will involve comprehensive observations of neural and physiological signatures before, during, and after psychedelic treatments. This goal will be aided by Neuroscape’s Multimodal Biosensing Program, which achieves simultaneous recording of multiple signals via fMRI, EEG, ECG, EOG, EMG, EDA, respiratory and facial expression tracking integrated with advances in signal processing and machine learning.

Clinical Science

Since the 1950’s medical scientists have been documenting meaningful and sustainable clinical benefits from psychedelic therapies in a wide range of patients, including those suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction. The field continues to remarkably advance, now with the Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies that are positioned to lead to the first approvals of psychedelics for clinical conditions.

The Neuroscape Psychedelics Division, in partnership with our Clinical Division, will engage in clinical trials at all stages to better inform both the efficacy and safety of these compounds as medicine. Our first study in this domain, led by Jennifer Mitchell, is as a site in the MAPS Phase 3 study of the therapeutic effects of MDMA for severe PTSD. Studies of psilocybin for end-of-life distress and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are upcoming.

Translational Science

Psychedelics are unique amongst pharmacological therapeutics in that their clinical impact is greatly influenced by contextual elements, which serve to shape a participant’s acute experience and impact their long-term outcomes. This is referred to in the field as “set and setting” and suggests that psychedelics should be viewed as a form of experiential medicine. Despite recent scientific breakthroughs in both mechanism and clinical efficacy, there is a surprising lack of innovative research into the delivery of the psychedelic experience.

The Neuroscape Psychedelic Division, working closely with our Technology Division, will capitalize on this major opportunity to advance psychedelics as precise and personalized therapeutics by studying how set and setting can be optimized to improve treatment effects in clinical populations. This will be accomplished via the collection of neural and physiological data to provide a rich map of a participant’s real-time state as the experience unfolds over time, coupled with dynamic adjustments of key contextual elements (e.g., sights, sounds and smells) in a manner that fosters enduring positive outcomes.

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