For decades, LSD has been one of the most popular recreational psychedelics despite being outlawed by the federal and state governments. In recent years, however, more and more people have begun using psychedelics such as LSD medicinally as an increasing number of studies have shown that hallucinogenic drugs can have mental health benefits.
Initial studies have revealed that LSD may be able to alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorders. In addition, a recent study, whose findings were reported in the “European Neuropsychopharmacology” journal, has now found that LSD may also be able to induce both impairments and improvements in cognitive function a day after. The research adds to the growing body of literature on the varied effects of LSD on cognitive function.
In this case, researchers ran a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the effect LSD has on cognitive functioning.
Study author Isabel Wießner said that while psychedelics such as LSD and magic mushrooms are famous for impairing cognitive function when used recreationally, they may also be able to have positive effects on cognition in certain situations. The postdoctoral researcher at the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte said that some studies have shown that microdosing psychedelics may result in improved attention and convergent thinking. Furthermore, Wießner said that microdosing may also improve neuroplasticity, neuroprotection and neurogenesis.
She also added that some studies found that participants had increased convergent thinking and cognitive flexibility after the acute effects of the psychedelic had worn off.
With this evidence in mind, Wießner and her colleagues set out to study whether LSD offered any therapeutic effects alongside its acute effects in a “methodically rigorous, placebo-controlled design.” The study involved randomly administering 24 volunteers with an inactive placebo or 50 micrograms of LSD, followed by a second testing session after two weeks where the participants received an alternate dose of either LSD or a placebo.
The researchers later found that individuals who took LSD had improved visuospatial memory as well as increased verbal fluency the morning after. On the other hand, LSD also led to impaired cognitive flexibility, which is the ability to switch between different activities quickly.
According to Wießner, dosing with LSD seemed to result in a “hangover” due to the dampened cognitive frequency and an “afterglow” that left participants with improved verbal fluency and visual memory.
Wießner added that the research points to the possibility of using psychedelics to improve memory functions that are related to language and memory.
Meanwhile, other enterprises such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) are focused on treating mental health conditions using psychedelic substances. Progress is being made, and some formulations could get FDA approval in the coming years.
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