Critical Period Plasticity as a Framework for Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

This paper offers a framework for investigating the neurobiological basis of PAP by extrapolating from models used to explain how a pharmacologic intervention might create an optimal brain state during which environmental input has enduring effects

Lauren Lepow; Hirofumi Morishita; Rachel Yehuda

2021

Scholarcy highlights

  • The psychedelic treatment paradigm is one in which, following a comprehensive preparation process, a psychedelic medicine is administered for one or up to several sessions
  • This review addresses a specific type of in vivo neuroplasticity in living animals: critical period plasticity, as seen in ocular dominance plasticity in the visual system
  • The definition of CPP should be reiterated as a state in which neural networks are exquisitely sensitive to environmental inputs
  • Not all neuroplasticity is therapeutic– for example, the morphological plasticity of cocaine is thought to be implicated in its abuse potential, cocaine does not reopen a critical period for social reward learning in mice, illustrating just one instance where the distinctions between these “neuroplastic” processes may be therapeutically significant
  • Building on a body of literature that calls attention to ocular dominance CPP as a potentially helpful framework for psychiatry, we posit its relevance to fine-tuning investigation of plasticity in psychedelic research
  • CPP may orient future work to a different level of observation missing from psychedelic research
  • With psychedelics as a probe and the translational research paradigms of visual science to draw upon, perhaps biological psychiatry is better poised to understand and manipulate critical periods of plasticity in psychological development

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