Imaging the brain on psychedelics – a way to understand their therapeutic effects on addiction
Preliminary studies suggest that psychedelics may help with the treatment of drug-related disorders. However, it is still not clear how their action resulted in the observed outcomes. We performed a systematic review about recent neuroimaging studies on the state induced by classic psychedelics in humans. Results point to effects in medial prefrontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus. Psychedelics also seem to affect limbic structures (e.g. amygdala), insula, occipital lobe and, less frequently, thalamus. They have been associated with a deactivation of the default mode network. Psychedelics have a relatively modest impact on dopaminergic circuits associated with addiction, but they affect structures implicated in cue processing and decision-making about drug-seeking behavior. These results and other social, psychological and biological explanations for the potential therapeutic role of psychedelics on substance-related disorders will also be commented.
Luís Fernando Tófoli graduated in Medicine at the University of São Paulo (1996), completed his medical residency in Psychiatry (2000) at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of São Paulo Medical School, and his Ph.D. in Medicine (Psychiatry) at the University of São Paulo (2004). He is currently a professor at the Department of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry of the Medical Science School at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and member of three graduate programs: Medical Sciences/Mental Health and Internal Medicine/Health Professions Education at UNICAMP. He has experience in Mental Health and Psychiatry, acting on the following subjects: primary care mental health, mental health and drug policies, ayahuasca and medically unexplained symptoms (somatic distress). He coordinates the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Studies on Psychoactive Drugs (LEIPSI) in Campinas, Brazil.