New methods to investigate the subjective effects of psychoactive drugs

Monday, December 17, 18:15 - 19:45, University of Zurich, KOL-H-312 (PLEASE NOTE DIFFERENT LECTURE HALL)

Raphaël Millière, PhD Candidate
Department of Philosophy, University of Oxford

In this talk, I will suggest that self-report questionnaires traditionally used to assess the subjective effects of psychoactive drugs have important limitations, and that we should investigate complementary methods to assess those effects more reliably. I will present two methods that I have used over the past two years: (a) the use of post-hoc micro-phenomenological interviews in experimental settings, and (b) the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to map out the subjective effects of drugs from large corpora of narrative reports. I will illustrate the respective strengths of these two methods by discussing the preliminary results of a new neuroimaging study of DMT at Imperial College London in which I have performed micro-phenomenological interviews with participants, and the preliminary results of an ongoing quantitative analysis of more than 15,000 ‘trip reports’ from Erowid.org using NLP. Finally, I will discuss how these methods can enrich our understanding of the complex effects of certain drugs, focusing on the example of drug-induced ego dissolution.