Psilocybin Shows Gender-Specific Effects on CNS Reactivity and Behavioral Responses

Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, have been shown to have good efficacy on various psychological illnesses. The use of psilocybin on depression, anxiety, alcohol, and substance abuse is not uncommon in medicine. These psychedelics help reduce clinical symptoms up to a year following administration. With the apparent benefits of psilocybin, its mechanisms of action and effect on neural and psychological pathways are not fully understood. Scientists believe this medication functions by reducing the negative effects of emotion or changing the brain network plasticity.

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin Mushrooms. Image Courtesy of Arp

Read Also: Study Shows That Psilocybin Is More Effective Than Antidepressants

Various research has attempted to explain the exact mechanisms and effects of psilocybin. However, fewer studies have investigated the long-term impacts of the drug on brain structures and function. Researchers in a new study aimed to examine the effects of psilocybin on the male and female central amygdala. The study investigated gender region-specific changes in the brain and the impact of the drug on behavior in males and females.

Gender may alter the impact of psilocybin in humans

Psilocybin and its active metabolite, psilocin, have been shown to alleviate symptoms in several effective psychiatric illnesses. The region-specific changes underlying these therapeutic effects, however, remain largely unknown. In affective psychiatric disorders, the central amygdala (CeA) is a primary output region within the extended amygdala that is not functionally regulated.

The researchers in this study measured the activity and reactivity of the central amygdala post administration of the psychiatric drug in males and females.

Psilocin administration increased the central amygdala activity in both males and females. The drug increased stimulus-specific central amygdala reactivity in females but not in males. Psilocin, on the other hand, caused time-dependent decreases in reactivity in males but not females as early as two days after administration and lasting up to 28 days.

Read Also: Yale University: Psilocybin Can Increase the Number of Neuronal Connections in Mice

The scientists also measured behavioral changes in both gender post-drug administration. There were no gender-specific responses on exploratory behavior. However, the study shows sex-dependent changes in response to threats. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that a single dose of psilocin causes sex-specific, time-dependent, and long-lasting changes in CeA reactivity and behavioral responses to specific components of an aversive stimulus.

Clinical significance

The use of psychedelics has gained prominence in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Even without a proper understanding of its mechanisms of action, long-term effects, or gender-specific use, psychedelics are still in use. The current study is clinically significant in showing the impact of these medications on the central amygdala brain region and behavioral responses in both genders. The study provides clinicians with a guide on expected biological changes in psychiatric patients on psychedelic medications.

Read Also: Psychedelic Mushrooms: Where and How Can They Be Obtained Legally in the US

Conclusion

Psychiatric illnesses are a global health menace. Developing effective medications with fewer adverse effects is vital in managing these illnesses. Using psychedelics without proper knowledge of their impact on the neurological system may hinder effective therapy. The current study shows the gender-specific changes of these drugs on both the brain and behavior.

References

Sex-Specific Effects of Psychedelic Drug Exposure on Central Amygdala Reactivity and Behavioral Responding

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