Serotonergic 2A receptor agonists (“classic psychedelics”) have recently been described as
psychoplastogens in view of their selective modulatory effects on neural structure and function.
Although this neural modulatory mechanism has been well demonstrated in animal models,
researchers are only now examining its role in the living human brain. Understanding processes
involving selective and adaptive modulation of neural structure may in the future catalyze
important interventions into mental and physical health that harness the brain’s capacity for
plasticity. The present proposal leverages a comprehensive set of methods at molecular,
functional, and psychological levels of analysis to investigate whether and how psychedelic
compounds produce neural plasticity, and whether neural modulatory processes underlie post-
acute changes in functional activation and synchrony in regions related to the personality trait
neuroticism and adaptive post-acute effects on neuroticism found in the literature. The long-term
goal of this line of research is to understand processes underlying selective modulation of neural
structure and function. The overall objective is to ascertain whether psychedelic compounds
produce neural plasticity indexed by Positron Emission Tomography radioligand indices of
synaptic density and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging activation and synchrony, and
whether these changes covary with adaptive changes in neuroticism.