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How does LSD work?

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psychology
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UC Berkeley

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  1. Abstract.
  2. Introduction.
  3. Justification.
  4. Chemical structure.
  5. Psychological effects.
  6. Neurochemical effects.
    1. Interpretation.
  7. Neuroatanomy.
    1. Interpretation.
  8. Conclusion.

LSD is a highly potent hallucinogen which can profoundly alter consciousness. The exact causal mechanism of this drug is unknown, but much information about its effects on the brain has accumulated over the past few decades. Understanding the causal mechanism behind its action may have positive benefit for therapeutic, pharmacological, and scientific applications. The action of LSD in the nervous system can be approached at phenomenological, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical levels. At the neurochemical level, the action of LSD is thought to involve serotonin and dopamine receptors, as well as glutamate and the expression of the genes c-fos and rac. At the neuroanatomical level, LSD action is thought to be focused in the thalamus, raphe nucleus, cortical pyramidal neurons, as well as numerous other locations.

[...] Anden, N.E., Corrodi, H., Fuxe, K., & Hokfelt, T. (1968). Evidence for a central hydroxytryptamine receptor stimulation by lysergic acid diethylamide. British Journal of Pharmacology 1-7. Behrendt, R.P. (2003). Hallucinations: synchronization of thalamocortical oscillations underconstrained by sensory input. Consciousness and Cognition 413-451. Cedarbaum, J.M., & Aghajanian, G.K. (1978). Activation of locus coeruleus neurons by peripheral stimuli: Modification by a collateral inhibitory mechanism. Life Sciences 23. 1383-1392. Crick, F.C., & Koch, C. (2005). What is the function of the claustrum? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 1271-1279. [...]


[...] Observations from LSD research. New York: Viking Press. Grof, S. (1980). LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House. Hoffman, A. (1980). LSD-My Problem Child. New York: Mcgraw Hill. Jaffe, J.H. (1985). Drug addiction and drug abuse. In Gilman, Rall, Rall and Rurad (eds) Goodman and Gilman's the Pharmalogical Basis of Therapeutics. p522-573. New York: McGraw Hill. Kolb, B. & Whishaw, I.Q. (2001). An Introduction to Brain and Behavior. New York: Worth Publishers. Kurland, A. A. (1985). LSD in the supportive care of the terminally ill cancer patient. [...]


[...] Relief of obsessive-compulsive symptoms by LSD and psilocin. American Journal of Psychiatry 1239-1240. Mangini, M. (1998). Treatment of alcoholism using psychedelic drugs: a review of the program of research. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 381-418. Marona-Lewicka, D., & Nichols, D.E. (2002). Behavioral alterations in rats following long term treatment with low-doses of LSD. 5th IUPHAR Satellite Meeting on Serotonin Martin-Ruiz, R., Puig, M.V., Celada, P., Shapiro, D.A., Roth, B.L., Mengod, G., & Artigas, F. (2001). Control of serotonergic function in medial prefrontal cortex by serotonin-2A receptors through a glutamate dependent mechanism. [...]

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