Researchers from Yale University have discovered that one dose of psilocybin administered to mice causes a quick and lasting increase in connections between neurons in the area of the brain involved in cognitive processes, known as the medial frontal cortex. Their discovery was reported in the “Neuron” journal.
Prior research has found that psilocybin, which is the active compound found in psilocybin mushrooms, has long-lasting and profound effects on mood and personality, with some preliminary studies providing evidence that the compound could be used to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression.
However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are yet to be discovered. To answer this question, the team’s objective was to look into whether psilocybin’s lasting therapeutic effects could be brought about by its ability to improve neuroplasticity in the brain.
An associate professor of psychiatry at the institution, Alex Kwan, who was also the author of the study, stated that the lab was interested in studying antidepressants and had begun their research in 2014 when the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awarded them a pilot grant. He explained that while conducting research on ketamine, the researchers discovered that it has effects on neuronal connections in the brain, which is what led them to begin studying psilocybin in an attempt to discover whether it gave rise to similar effects.
For their study, the scientists utilized two-photon microscopy to monitor over 1,800 dendritic spines for a number of days in living mice. A dendritic spine is a protrusion from a neuron’s dendrite, which receives communication input from other neurons. The scientists observed increases in the size and number of spines 24 hours after they had administered the first dose of psilocybin.
In comparison with mice that did not receive the psychedelic compound, the spine head width and the density of the dendritic spines had grown by nearly 10%, with the researchers noting that these changes remained consistent four weeks after.
The scientists’ findings align with a prior study reported in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences,” which discovered that psilocybin grew the number of neuronal connections in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of pig brains. Prior research also discovered that psilocybin rapidly grew the expression of some genes associated with neuroplasticity in the brain of rats.
The researchers are now focused on examining other cell types to find out whether they are also affected by psilocybin, which will be helpful in the development of new medications.
Speaking of developing new medications, for-profit firms such as Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF) are already taking drug candidates through the development process, so approved psychedelic medications will be available on the market as soon as possible.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CYBN
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