Robin Carhart-Harris is the first person in the UK to have legally administered doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to human volunteers since the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, and his presentation climaxes with a slide showing something no one else has seen before: an as-yet unpublished cross-sectional image of the brain of a volunteer who was in an fMRI scanner while tripping on acid. Blobs of colour indicate changes in blood flow, from which can be inferred changes in levels of activity in specific brain regions – notably, in this case, the hippo-campus, which is involved, among other things, in making memories and giving them context.

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“I personally think it has a great deal of potential for treating addiction,” says Carhart-Harris. “It’s slightly hypothetical, but it’s based on what we know about the way the brain works, which is that it settles into configurations of activity that seem to underly certain psychopathologies.”Depression and addictions rest on reinforced patterns of brain activity, and a psychedelic will introduce a relative chaos. Patterns that have become reinforced disintegrate under the drug. I’ve used the metaphor of shaking a snowglobe. And there’s some evidence that psychedelics induce plasticity, in terms of neural connections in the brain, such that there is a window of opportunity in which connections can either be broken or reinforced. New things can be learnt at the same time that old things can be unlearnt. It induces a kind of suppleness of mind.”

Dr Carhart-Harris says: 'Criminalising these substances doesn't help anyone. Historically they've benefited mankind'

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris is the first scientist in over 40 years to test LSD on humans – and you’re next – People – News – The Independent.


Our videos describing different aspects of what we do.

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  • Robert Kew on Help us treat depression!Hi. I would very much like to participate in a trial. I'm 49 and have suffered most of my life with anxiety and depression. I'm currently on dual reuptake inhibitors but they have limited effect for me. I've tried many, many things over the years to…
  • Patryk on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHello everyone I'm on antidepressant from couple of years and I try many different types. Right now I have worst time ever. I try mushrooms which one found my self on last season 2016. I have found but that was very difficult for me. I go nearly ever…
  • terry hall on Help us treat depression!I would be very interested to hear about your research on your use of psychedelics , I would be very interested if you are looking for new volunteers for further trials , I am 50 years old and I have suffered with depression for 25 years and have fou…
  • Bob on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHi, I have read your articles and I am currently on anti depressants. I have tried different kinds as I have mild PTSD from military service and suffer from depression constantly. I would very much like to assist and be a volunteer for future trials.
  • Chris noton on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHello, I’m am 43 year old male living in oxford and suffered from depression and anxiety for 20 some years and I am a chronic suffer. I am very interested in participating on this type of drug trial. In my 20’s I have picked my own mushrooms once or…
  • Anonymous on Are you having a psychedelic experience in the near future?Hi All, I suffer from depression and anxiety and have done so for many years. After being placed on anti-depressants (again), I had a very bad response and the side effects of increased suicidal thoughts became unbearable. It was an everyday battle o…
  • J Moran on Help us treat depression!Hello, I am wondering if you have completed your research into the use of psychedelics to aid with depression. I suffer with it myself and want to know if you are still looking for volunteers? I am currently 20 years old, turning 21 in September. I a…
  • Leo Tognetti on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHi Drew Thanks for sharing. What was your method?

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Dr Robin Carhart-Harris is the first scientist in over 40 years to test LSD on humans
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