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Re: Psilocybin Rewires the Depressed Brain

Posted by Hugh on April 20, 2022, at 14:40:48

In reply to Psilocybin Rewires the Depressed Brain, posted by Hugh on April 13, 2022, at 14:17:03

In the new study, the team took advantage of brain scans from those two trials to uncover how magic mushrooms work in the depressed brain. Psilocybin rapidly decreased depression symptoms in both trials, based on a standardized questionnaire. With just two in-clinic doses, psilocybin reduced the patients' depressive score by 64 percent after 3 weeks. In contrast, Lexapro dropped the score by only 37 percent 6 weeks after taking it daily. Patients treated with psilocybin scored low for depression even half a year after stopping treatment.

Peeking into their brains, the team analyzed the brain scans with a method dubbed "network modularity," which looks at how connected or segregated different brain areas are. Comparing fMRI scans of peoples' brains before and after psilocybin treatment, the team found increased connectivity just one day after psilocybin. Previously segregated networks re-formed their social networks, causing an increase in brain connectivity, especially in networks normally disrupted by depression.

Using a metric called dynamic flexibility, the team also found that brain networks treated with psilocybin changed their community allegiance more rapidly over time. This suggests that rather than their locked state in depression, the networks are shaken up to restructure their communications across the brain to alleviate depressive symptoms. Psilocybin doesn't dampen brain activity -- rather, it "liberates the entrenched depressed brain, making it more integrated and flexible," wrote the editors of Nature Medicine.

In contrast, Lexapro didn't drive any network changes and only had modest effects on depression.

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