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Using psilocybin to investigate the relationship between attention, working memory, and the serotonin 1A and 2A receptors


Carter, Olivia L; Burr, David C; Pettigrew, John D; Wallis, Guy M; Hasler, Felix; Vollenweider, Franz X (2005). Using psilocybin to investigate the relationship between attention, working memory, and the serotonin 1A and 2A receptors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17(10):1497-1508.

Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests a link between attention, working memory, serotonin (5-HT), and prefrontal cortex activity. In an attempt to tease out the relationship between these elements, this study tested the effects of the hallucinogenic mixed 5-HT1A/2A receptor agonist psilocybin alone and after pretreatment with the 5-HT2A antagonist ketanserin. Eight healthy human volunteers were tested on a multiple-object tracking task and spatial working memory task under the four conditions: placebo, psilocybin (215 microg/kg), ketanserin (50 mg), and psilocybin and ketanserin. Psilocybin significantly reduced attentional tracking ability, but had no significant effect on spatial working memory, suggesting a functional dissociation between the two tasks. Pretreatment with ketanserin did not attenuate the effect of psilocybin on attentional performance, suggesting a primary involvement of the 5-HT1A receptor in the observed deficit. Based on physiological and pharmacological data, we speculate that this impaired attentional performance may reflect a reduced ability to suppress or ignore distracting stimuli rather than reduced attentional capacity. The clinical relevance of these results is also discussed.

Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests a link between attention, working memory, serotonin (5-HT), and prefrontal cortex activity. In an attempt to tease out the relationship between these elements, this study tested the effects of the hallucinogenic mixed 5-HT1A/2A receptor agonist psilocybin alone and after pretreatment with the 5-HT2A antagonist ketanserin. Eight healthy human volunteers were tested on a multiple-object tracking task and spatial working memory task under the four conditions: placebo, psilocybin (215 microg/kg), ketanserin (50 mg), and psilocybin and ketanserin. Psilocybin significantly reduced attentional tracking ability, but had no significant effect on spatial working memory, suggesting a functional dissociation between the two tasks. Pretreatment with ketanserin did not attenuate the effect of psilocybin on attentional performance, suggesting a primary involvement of the 5-HT1A receptor in the observed deficit. Based on physiological and pharmacological data, we speculate that this impaired attentional performance may reflect a reduced ability to suppress or ignore distracting stimuli rather than reduced attentional capacity. The clinical relevance of these results is also discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:October 2005
Deposited On:16 Feb 2016 13:19
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:03
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0898-929X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1162/089892905774597191
PubMed ID:16269092

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