According to a recently conducted study and published on Translational Psychiatric, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy proved to boost both cognitive and neural flexibility in patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD).
Unfortunately, the study also found out that psychedelic-induced psychotherapy boots neural flexibility in patients suffering from MDD but this doesn’t always happen in boosting cognitive flexibility.
The researchers in the study were focusing on finding out the effects of psilocybin on two concepts related to neuroplasticity; neural flexibility- variability in brain activity and connectivity and cognitive ability- the ability to adaptively switch between mental processes.
Manoj Doss, the lead researcher in the study, says the treatment comprised of 18 psychotherapy sessions in which psilocybin was administered in two of the sessions by two clinical health workers who gave guidance and reassurance.
The psilocybin doses were administered two weeks apart and each psilocybin session lasted for around five hours whereby the participant would lie on a couch wearing eyeshades and headphones playing music in a room with monitors.
“Many psychiatric disorders have impairments in cognitive flexibility, and during the immediate (acute) drug effects, psychedelics have been shown to increase certain measures of neural flexibility, signals in the brain thought to be involved in cognitive flexibility. Some people have asserted that psychedelics enhance cognitive flexibility based on animal data that found that drugs that block the 5-HT2A receptor impair cognitive flexibility. However, in both animals and humans, it was recently shown that cognitive flexibility was impaired during the acute effects of psychedelics,” said Doss
Doss who is also a postdoctoral scientist in the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, expressed his uncertainty once the acute effects wear off.
“What was unclear was after the acute effects wear off but plasticity is supposedly still elevated are cognitive and neural flexibility enhanced by psilocybin therapy?” added Doss.