Study finds magic mushrooms may ‘reset’ the brains of depressed patients

first_imgPinterest Share on Twitter Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a ‘reset’ of their brain activity.The findings come from a study in which researchers from Imperial College London used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression in whom conventional treatment had failed.In a paper, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe patient-reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment, and believe the psychedelic compound may effectively reset the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression. Email Share on Facebookcenter_img Share Comparison of images of patients’ brains before and one day after they received the drug treatment revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms.The authors note that while the initial results of the experimental therapy are exciting, they are limited by the small sample size as well as the absence of a control group – such as a placebo group – to directly contrast with the patients.Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.“Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted’. Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.”Over the last decade or so, a number of clinical trials have been conducted into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics in patients with conditions such as depression and addictions, yielding promising results.In the recent Imperial trial, the first with psilocybin in depression, 20 patients with treatment-resistant form of the disorder were given two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg), with the second dose a week after the first.Nineteen of these underwent initial brain imaging and then a second scan one day after the high dose treatment. Carhart-Harris and team used two main brain imaging methods to measure changes in blood flow and the crosstalk between brain regions, with patients reporting their depressive symptoms through completing clinical questionnaires.Immediately following treatment with psilocybin, patients reported a decrease in depressive symptoms – corresponding with anecdotal reports of an ‘after-glow’ effect characterised by improvements in mood and stress relief.Functional MRI imaging revealed reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, including the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped region of the brain known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear. They also found increased stability in another brain network, previously linked to psilocybin’s immediate effects as well as to depression itself.These findings provide a new window into what happens in the brains of people after they have ‘come down’ from a psychedelic, where an initial disintegration of brain networks during the drug ‘trip’, is followed by a re-integration afterwards.Dr Carhart-Harris explained: “Through collecting these imaging data we have been able to provide a window into the after effects of psilocybin treatment in the brains of patients with chronic depression. Based on what we know from various brain imaging studies with psychedelics, as well as taking heed of what people say about their experiences, it may be that psychedelics do indeed ‘reset’ the brain networks associated with depression, effectively enabling them to be lifted from the depressed state.The authors warn that while the initial findings are encouraging, the research is at an early stage and that patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate, as the team provided a special therapeutic context for the drug experience and things may go awry if the extensive psychological component of the treatment is neglected. They add that future studies will include more robust designs and currently plan to test psilocybin against a leading antidepressant in a trial set to start early next year.Professor David Nutt, Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences, and senior author of the paper, added: “Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients. But these initial findings are exciting and provide another treatment avenue to explore.” LinkedInlast_img read more

Pro bono lessons

first_imgI read with interest your leader. You are right to point out that reducing and, in some cases, removing public funding from legal services may create a pro bono default position. That said, the educational and social justice agendas involved in law schools having a commitment to pro bono work are too important to be dismissed, even though the political significance remains as you suggest. On 15 and 16 June, a workshop will be held at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham at which law schools, private legal practice and the not-for-profit sector will come together to discuss how law school pro bono activity can best be used to improve access to justice in the context of legal aid cuts. The government has also been invited to contribute. Your readers would be most welcome to attend (although numbers are limited). Richard Grimes, Director of clinical programmes, York Law School, University of Yorklast_img read more

Wearable Interactive Tattoos Facilitate Contactless Payments

first_imgPlastic cards, cash, and even smartphones could one day be replaced with a new type of payment method that is a bit harder to misplace: a tattoo-like sticker.MC10’s Wearable Interactive Stamp Platform (WiSP) is an ultra-thin sticker that resembles a tattoo. What makes it so extraordinary is that it contains near field communication (NFC) technology enabling it to connect to an NFC-capable device such as a smartphone or a dedicated reader.This type of technology could inherently be more secure; it isn’t a loose physical object you could easily misplace. For patients in hospitals, it could replace the often bulky wrist bands medical workers use to identify and track patients.Removing the WiSP is easy, but doing so tears it so that the information it contains becomes unreadable and any data stored within virtually useless to any would-be thief. As a payment method, the WiSP could be used to store your credit card information and swiped over a contactless reader, freeing the wearer’s hands – and pockets.MC10’s technology is already being put to use by L’Oréal to research skin exposure to UV rays and the company is seeking other businesses to partner with to take the technology even further.last_img read more

Naomi Osaka rolls into Toray Pan Pacific Open semis

first_img Naomi Osaka, Toray Pan Pacific Open, Barbora Strycova Osaka, the world No. 7 struggled to land her first serve early in each set at Arena Tachikawa Tachihi and gave her opponent a number of second chances with inaccurate shots. But in both sets, the local favorite eventually took control after finding her rhythm.The 20-year-old Osaka said she had been prepared for a tough match against the eighth-seeded Strycova, having split their two past encounters on the WTA circuit.“This was my third time playing her, and each time it was very close, so I knew she was very good,” Osaska said.Osaka, who won the previous meeting between the pair in the opening round of Wimbledon last year, broke Strycova in the fourth game to go up 3-1, but the 32-year-old Czech broke back in the seventh game.In the following game, third seed Osaka produced an array of dazzling returns to break her opponent once again before serving out the set in 42 minutes.Having saved a break point in her opening service game of the second set, Osaka leveled the scores at 1-1 with her third ace of the match, a 190-kph thunderbolt. She secured the crucial break in the fifth game to go up 3-2.In the 10th game, Strycova saved one match point with a cracking forehand winner for deuce, before Osaka earned another match point with an ace. The favorite then made no mistake, sealing the win with an unreturnable serve.Earlier in the main arena, 2017 quarterfinalist and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic survived a thriller against unseeded American Alison Riske.After breezing through the first set, current world No. 8 Pliskova had to fight hard for her 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4) victory over the tenacious Riske, who had reached the quarters by upsetting another former No. 1, sixth-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, in the last 16.No. 4 seed Pliskova will face Donna Vekic in the semifinals after the 45th-ranked Croat upset sixth-seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4.Halep praises OsakaSimona Halep believes this year’s French Open victory has helped justify her position as the women’s world No. 1, with the Romanian saying she was now playing pressure-free tennis and motivated to add more Grand Slam titles to her resume.Speaking to a small gathering of reporters in a phone interview on Friday, the 26-year-old also earmarked U.S. Open champion Osaka as a huge prospect for the future after she made her major breakthrough in New York.“My dream was to become No. 1 and I managed that last year and then my goal was to win a Grand Slam because some consider that a sign of being a true No. 1,” Halep commented.“So my motivation was to win a major after I reached the top of the rankings and now I feel relaxed after achieving both. I am still motivated to win every match and now the pressure feels off, I can just feel the pleasure of playing.”Halep knows all too well the pain of losing a Grand Slam final after suffering three failures in as many title matches before she rallied past American Sloane Stephens in Paris to prevail 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on her favorite clay surface in June.The mental and physical exertion of that triumph seemed to take a toll on the baseliner midway through the season but Halep believes her form in North America indicated she was close to playing her best tennis. Naomi Osaka plays a shot from Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic in their quarterfinal match at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Friday. | AFP-JIJI RELATED PHOTOS Naomi Osaka booked her ticket to the Toray Pan Pacific Open semifinals with a straight-sets win against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday.Having quickly overpowered Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in the previous round, the U.S. Open champion had to dig deeper for her 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 25th-ranked Strycova in 1 hour, 31 minutes.center_img KEYWORDS GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5last_img read more

Popovich in Spurs contract talks

first_imgSAN ANTONIO (AP): Coach Gregg Popovich is negotiating a new deal with the San Antonio Spurs. The 70-year-old Popovich just finished his 23rd season with the Spurs. The Spurs have made the play-offs in each of the last 22 seasons, a streak that ties for the longest in NBA history, and there was some speculation about whether he would return. He has won five NBA championships with San Antonio. He said yesterday that negotiations are under way.last_img

Sudan Edge Libya On Penalties To Take Third Place At CHAN 2018

first_imgSudan have taken third place at the ongoing African Nations Championship (ANC) in Morocco after they saw off their North African opponents Libya 4-2 on penalties in their 3rd/4th place playoff match on Saturday night.The Sudanese team took the lead as early as the eighth minute through Walai Eldin before they were pegged back late into the game through Salem Ablo thereby forcing extra time and penalties.The aforementioned Ablo and Amadou Elhouni missed their penalties for former champions Libya during the shootout to hand Sudan third place at the tournament via a 4-2 win.The final match will be contested by hosts Morocco and Nigeria on Sunday night.RelatedCHAN Eagles See Off Sudan To Seal Final Meeting With MoroccoFebruary 1, 2018In “Africa”CHAN Eagles Group Stage Opponents Revealed After Morocco DrawNovember 17, 2017In “Africa”CHAN 2018 Matchday 2 Review: Namibia Shock Ivory Coast As Sudan And Zambia Secure Respective WinsJanuary 15, 2018In “CAF”last_img read more