february, 2020

18feb9:30 am- 10:30 amPsychotherapy, Psychedelics, and Neuroplasticity


Event Details

Speaker: Gregor Hasler, M.D., Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Fribourg, Switzerland


In depressed patients, the remission rate in response to conventional antidepressant drugs is
around 50%. The lack of strong synergies between classical antidepressants and psychotherapy
may be due to the molecular effects of classical antidepressants. They mainly increase
monoamine neurotransmission and do not have a strong effect on neuroplasticity. For
example, they modulate synapses but they do not substantially influence synaptogenesis. They
also increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, for activity-dependent
plasticity, BDNF release has to work in concert with activation of synaptogenesis.
There has been considerable excitement about psychedelics strong and lasting antidepressant
effect. The fast changes in synaptic function and plasticity induced by LSD, psilocybin, MDMA,
and ketamine that go well beyond effects of classical antidepressants. As a result, these drugs
may turn out to have the capacity to considerably enhance the effects of psychotherapy. Such
enhancing effects may become an important clinical indication for psychedelics since its purely
pharmacological effect is transient. In my talk, I will outline some mechanistic hypotheses how
psychotherapy may specifically prolong psychedelics’ antidepressant effects.


(Tuesday) 9:30 am - 10:30 am


209 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor, in the ALLAN WATERS FAMILY AUDITORIUM

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