Functional Connectivity Measures After Psilocybin Inform a Novel Hypothesis of Early Psychosis

Functional Connectivity Measures After Psilocybin Inform a Novel Hypothesis of Early Psychosis

Abstract

Psilocybin is a classic psychedelic and a candidate drug model of psychosis. This study measured the effects of psilocybin on resting-state network and thalamocortical functional connectivity (FC) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Fifteen healthy volunteers received intravenous infusions of psilocybin and placebo in 2 task-free resting-state scans. Primary analyses focused on changes in FC between the default-mode- (DMN) and task-positive network (TPN). Spontaneous activity in the DMN is orthogonal to spontaneous activity in the TPN, and it is well known that these networks support very differ -ent functions (ie, the DMN supports introspection, whereas the TPN supports externally focused attention). Here, inde -pendent components and seed-based FC analyses revealed increased DMN-TPN FC and so decreased DMN-TPN orthogonality after psilocybin. Increased DMN-TPN FC has been found in psychosis and meditatory states, which share some phenomenological similarities with the psy -chedelic state. Increased DMN-TPN FC has also been observed in sedation, as has decreased thalamocortical FC, but here we found preserved thalamocortical FC after psi -locybin. Thus, we propose that thalamocortical FC may be related to arousal, whereas DMN-TPN FC is related to the separateness of internally and externally focused states. We suggest that this orthogonality is compromised in early psychosis, explaining similarities between its phenomenol -ogy and that of the psychedelic state and supporting the utility of psilocybin as a model of early psychosis.

Carhart-Harris, R. L., Leech, R., Erritzoe, D., Williams, T. M.,  Stone, J. M.,  Evans, J., …. Nutt, D. J. (2012). Functional Connectivity Measures After Psilocybin Inform a Novel Hypothesis of Early Psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 39(6), 1343-1351. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbs117

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