Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES - 20th Annual Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Conference
Friday 7 - Saturday 8 September 2018 | Regents University, Regents Park, London |
www.bps.org.uk/cep/exceptionalexperiences

This conference will explore exceptional experiences such as mystical, spiritual, psychic, NDE and other 'anomalous' experiences. It will also address experiences engendered through the use of psychedelics. Such experiences can involve a sense of interconnectedness, a wider sense of self, a sense of peace, joy, bliss, awe and/or wonder and may be perceptually intense. In some cases they appear to offer exceptional knowledge. In many instances such exceptional experiences have a positive transformative effect on the experient.

The conference will look at accounts of exceptional experience, positive aspects of altered states, recent research on what is happening in the brain in altered states such as meditation and the benefits of exceptional experience, seen for example in recent work on the potential therapeutic benefit of various psychedelics in addressing depression. All welcome.

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Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences
Milan Scheidegger, MD, PhD, MA HPK

Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history to induce exceptional experiences for therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Nowadays, in the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research, psychoactive drugs could serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of altered states of consciousness. In this talk, I will give an overview about how drug-induced exceptional experiences can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states also raise profound philosophical questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in living systems. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored.

Transformations of Consciousness

A Totnes Consciousness Café Special Event: The Royal Seven Stars Hotel, The Plains, Totnes, UK
Wednesday 5th September, 7:00 arrival, for 7:30 to 10:00 pm

Professor Etzel Cardeña on ‘Altered Consciousness and Enhanced Human Abilities’

This presentation will review research on the relation between altered states of consciousness, the procedures and practices to induce them, and enhanced performance, including performance in psi (parapsychological) experiments. Multiple studies on meditation, hypnosis, sensory homogenization, psychoactive drug ingestion, and spontaneous alterations of consciousness show a relation to enhanced physiological and psychological functioning, such as increased ability to withstand cold temperature and painful stimuli, heightened perceptual sensitivity and attention control, and enhanced positive affect and personality change. Parapsychological research also indicates that when individuals are exposed to techniques to alter their state of consciousness they produce stronger evidence of psi phenomena, such as precognition and micro-psychokinesis than when they are in their ordinary waking consciousness.

Etzel Cardeña (Lund University, Sweden) holds the Thorsen Chair in Psychology and directs the Center for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology (CERCAP). His areas of research include alterations of consciousness and anomalous experiences, dissociative processes, the neurophenomenology of hypnosis and meditation, and the stream of consciousness during waking and altered states. He has more than 300 publications and various awards for his empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical contributions.

Dr Milan Scheidegger on ‘Mind in Nature: Towards a Molecular Epistemology of Consciousness’

The interfaces between mind, brain, consciousness and nature, remain exciting unresolved frontiers in science and philosophy: What is the nature of the human mind and how does conscious experience and meaning emerge in living systems? In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness. As Freud’s dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychoactive compounds could nowadays serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of consciousness. Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history for shamanic, therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states of consciousness also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe. This transdisciplinary talk provides an integral approach of understanding the nature of human existence from its molecular basis up to the level of phenomenal consciousness. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored.

Milan Scheidegger (University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich) has an academic background in medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychiatry. His MD-PhD degree was in functional and molecular neuroimaging at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (University and ETH Zurich). He is currently researching the neurobiology and pharmacology of altered states of consciousness. He investigates the potential of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT to facilitate therapeutic transformation. On his ethnobotanical expeditions to Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, he has explored the traditional use of psychoactive plants in indigenous rituals.

Entry: £8:00 

Booking:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/transformations-of-consciousness-a-totnes-consciousness-cafe-special-event-tickets-47989168896

Exploring the antidepressant effects of ketamine: Insights from multimodal neuroimaging

CINP World Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology, Vienna 2018.
19.06.2018 | 09:45 – 11:30 | Austria Centre Vienna

Understanding the mechanism of action of ketamine-like drugs in mood disorders and their implementation in the clinic
Chair Dr Jennifer Phillips, The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research, Canada
Co-Chair Prof Richard Frey, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Speaker 1 Dr Gerard Sanacora, Yale University School of Medicine, USA,
Molecular and cellular mechanisms for the rapid-onset of antidepressant-like effects

Speaker 2 Dr Milan Scheidegger, Zürich University Hospital for Psychiatry, Switzerland,
Exploring the antidepressant effects of ketamine: Insights from multimodal neuroimaging

Speaker 3 Dr Bashkim Kadriu, National Institute of Mental Health, USA,
Behavioural, peripheral, and central nervous system biomarkers for treatment response of ketamine-like drugs

Speaker 4 Dr Jennifer Phillips, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Canada,
Cumulative and sustained effects of ketamine on depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation in treatment-resistant depression

75 Jahre LSD: Wohin führt die Reise?

75 Jahre LSD - Eine Jubiläumsveranstaltung zum 75. Jahrestag der LSD-Entdeckung
Donnerstag, 19. April 2018, 8:30 - 19:15, Hotel Hofmatt, Basel

Podiumsdiskussion: LSD, wohin führt die Reise?

Moderation: Claudia Müller-Ebeling

Peter Gasser (CH), Psychiater, Psychotherapeut, Präsident der Schweizerischen Ärztegesellschaft für Psycholytische Therapie (SÄPT), Leiter von LSD-Studien in der Schweiz

Milan Scheidegger (CH), Arzt, Forschung mit Psychedelika

Catherine Ritter (CH), Ärztin, Mitarbeiterin BAG Sektion Öffentliche Gesundheit

Roger Liggenstorfer (CH), Leiter des Nachtschatten Verlags, Mitbegründer verschiedener drogenpolitischer Organisationen und Initiativen

Mind in Nature: Towards a Molecular Epistemology of Consciousness

PROJECT 325: Interfaces and beyond
PROJECT 325 is a transdisciplinary retreat, taking place in Wartburg near Lake Constance, Switzerland, 15th-18th February 2018.

The interfaces between mind, brain, consciousness and nature, remain exciting unresolved frontiers in science and philosophy: What is the nature of the human mind and how does conscious experience and meaning emerge in living systems?

In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness. As Freuds dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychoactive compounds could nowadays serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of the molecular epistemology and phenomenology of consciousness. Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history for shamanic, therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states of consciousness also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe.

This transdisciplinary talk provides an integral approach of understanding the nature of human existence from its molecular basis up to the level of phenomenal consciousness. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored. This journey into remote territories advocates an attitude of epistemological humility: Reality turns out to be an ever-changing dance of possibilities that transcends the conceptually misleading distinctions between mind and matter that pervade the history of rationalistic thought.

AYAHUASCA - von der indigenen Medizin zum klinischen Prüfpräparat?

FORUM: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHEDELIC SCIENCE

Montag, 4. Dezember 2017, 18:15 - 19:45, Universität Zürich,
KOL-F-118

Ayahuasca ist eine Pflanzenzubereitung aus Amazonien, welche bisher in der indigenen Medizin traditionelle Anwendung fand. Neben zahlreichen anekdotischen Berichten sind in den letzten Monaten vermehrt Studien zu Ayahuasca veröffentlicht worden, die klinisch relevante positive Effekte bei der Behandlung von Depressionen, Angststörungen, Suchtdruck oder Traumafolgestörungen nahelegen. Ayahuasca enthält die psychotropen Wirkstoffe Dimethyltryptamin (DMT) und β-Carboline (MAO-Hemmer), welche rasch wirksame Effekte auf das Serotoninsystem zeigen und die Neuroplastizität fördern. Der therapeutische Einsatz dieser psychotroper Substanzen beruht dabei weniger auf einer längerdauernden pharmakologischen Substitution von Neurotransmittern als vielmehr auf der Veränderung von dysfunktionalen neuronalen Regelkreisen. Insofern könnte sich Ayahuasca als Adjuvans zur Psychotherapie in einer stärker transformationsorientierten Behandlungsstrategie als innovative Therapieoption erweisen.

Augmentation of psychotherapy with DMT, ayahuasca, psilocybin and ketamine

WPA World Congress of Psychiatry, Berlin 2017.
10.10.2017 | 08:15 – 09:45 | Hall A3

Beyond classical antidepressants: experimental psychopharmacological interventions to treat social and affective disorders


Only a few innovative psychopharmacological compounds have been developed by big pharmaceutical companies for patients with affective disorders in the recent decade. At the same time, a variety of promising compounds which do not act via monoaminergic neurotransmission are currently being investigated in academic settings. Thus, the aim of the present symposium is the discussion of chances, opportunities and challenges of such compounds. To do so, Franz Vollenweider will give an introduction about currently available psychoactive compounds and will illustrate their clinical, behavioural and neuronal effects using Psilocybin as an example. Afterwards, Simone Grimm will extend the topic by reporting about effects of Ketamine on emotional working memory as well as on functional and structural brain changes in patients with depression and healthy controls. Milan Scheidender will then demonstrate first experiences in the augmentation of psychotherapy with psychoactive compounds such as DMT, Ayahuasca, Psilocybin or Ketamine. Finally, Markus Heinrichs will give insights into his recent findings about differential effects of oxytocin in disorders with disturbed social interactions.

Augmentation of psychotherapy with DMT, ayahuasca, psilocybin and ketamine

In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness and psychotherapeutic transformation. While the burden in mental health care is soaring to worldwide epidemic levels, there is an unmet clinical need to investigate novel approaches to combine pharmacology and psychotherapy, and shift the paradigm from pharmacological substitution to transformation-based therapy.

Recently, increased scientific interest in a class of rapid-acting psychoactive compounds (e.g. ketamine, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and dimethyltryptamine - DMT) targeting serotonergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission underscores their potential to facilitate rapid neurobehavioral change within this emerging new treatment paradigm. Rapid-acting serotonergic drugs exert their therapeutic potential by increasing synaptic plasticity and by acutely destabilizing local brain network hubs and global network connectivity, thus providing the occasion for resetting of neurocircuitries that underlie maladaptive behaviors.

In my talk, I will give an overview about how the subjective and clinical effects of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin and ayahuasca can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Through enhancing adaptive neuroplasticity, cognitive flexibility and psychological well-being, rapid acting psychoactive drugs may be a missing pharmacological key element towards integrative transformational healthcare.

AYAHUASCA: eine innovative Therapieoption?

SGPP KONGRESS | Freitag 15. September 2017

Kursaal Bern | VIVACE 5 | 11:15 – 12:30 Uhr

Ayahuasca ist eine Pflanzenzubereitung aus Amazonien, welche bisher in der indigenen Medizin traditionelle Anwendung fand. Neben zahlreichen anekdotischen Berichten sind in den letzten Monaten vermehrt Studien zu Ayahuasca veröffentlicht worden, die klinisch relevante positive Effekte bei der Behandlung von Angststörungen, Depressionen, Suchtdruck und psychosomatischen Symptomen nahelegen. Ayahuasca enthält die psychotropen Wirkstoffe Dimethyltryptamin (DMT) und β-Carboline (MAO-Hemmer), welche rasch wirksame Effekte auf das Serotoninsystem zeigen und die Neuroplastizität fördern. Der therapeutische Einsatz dieser psychotroper Substanzen beruht dabei weniger auf einer längerdauernden pharmakologischen Substitution von Neurotransmittern als vielmehr auf der Veränderung von dysfunktionalen neuronalen Regelkreisen. Insofern könnte sich Ayahuasca als Adjuvans zur Psychotherapie in einer stärker transformationsorientierten Behandlungsstrategie als innovative Therapieoption erweisen.

Psilocybin Enhances Mindfulness-Related Capabilities in a Meditation Retreat Setting: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled fMRI Study

Breaking Convention 2017, London, UK.
Neuroscience Track | Saturday July 1st, 9:00 AM

Under supportive conditions, psychedelics induce transformational experiences that resemble states reached in deep meditation. Likewise, improvements in mindfulness-related capabilities may not only be enhanced by meditation but also through distinctive features of the psychedelic experience.

Here we present findings from an fMRI study with psilocybin in experienced meditators in a meditation retreat setting. We found that psilocybin-assisted meditation increased both self-reported meditation depth and post-retreat levels of mindfulness. Notably, psilocybin also changed functional brain connectivity in self-referential information processing networks that subserve the process of meditation.

We conclude that psilocybin has the potential to facilitate transformational experiences within a meditation retreat framework, which underscores the importance of set and setting to facilitate beneficial outcomes of psychedelic experiences. Through enhancing neuroplasticity, mindfulness-related capabilities and well-being, psilocybin may have promising therapeutic impact for transformational healthcare.