Acute, lasting and antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca
Our previous fMRI studies during the acute effects of Ayahuasca were focused on the mental imagery system and on the Default Mode Network (DMN). We have found that Ayahuasca changes the activity of the frontopolar cortex (BA 10), occipital visual areas, and the medial temporal lobe. We have also found decreased activity, and functional connectivity changes, of the Default Mode Network (DMN). In the last few years, we have also been studying the potential antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca. Preliminary evidences, from an open-label study, suggest that Ayahuasca is well tolerated by patients with depression, and indicate a significant lasting antidepressant effect after a single dose of Ayahuasca. Besides these studies, in this presentation we will also show preliminary results, from a single-blind placebo controlled experiment, which indicates lasting effects of Ayahuasca (24h after) over biochemical markers of the HPA axis (cortisol), the immune system (Interleukin-4 and 6), and BDNF.
Draulio has received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil, a master’s degree in applied physics from the Universidade Federal do Ceara, Brazil, and a Ph.D. in physics applied to medicine and biology from the Universidade de Sao Paulo in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin. He then completed a post-doctoral training in the University Hospital at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, where he kept on developing and applying functional neuroimaging methods (functional MRI, MEG, combined EEG-fMRI) mainly to epilepsy and stroke. In 2002 he joined the department of Medical Physics of the Universidade de Sao Paulo as an assistant professor, moving to Natal, Brazil in 2009 to join the Brain Institute, where he currently holds a professor position in neuroimaging. Since 2008 his research has focused on using functional neuroimaging methods (EEG and fMRI) for the investigation of the cognitive aspects and neural substrates of the ayahuasca experience, and to test its use as an alternative antidepressant.