Psilocybin may increase the density of dendritic spines and neural connections lost in depressive episodes
Mental health problems, like depression, typically lead to a lower number of neuronal connections. New research shows that the psychedelic drug psilocybin may increase the density of dendritic spines, strengthening the transmission of information between neurons.
Rodents were tested using a laser-scanning microscope at the Yale School of Medicine, where dendritic spines were analyzed as part of high-resolution imaging over a span of days.
The size of the dendritic spines increased substantially within 24 hours of receiving the psychedelic treatment, with such effects still rampant even one month after administration of treatment.
The study was released in the peer-reviewed journal Neuron.
“We not only saw a 10% increase in the number of neuronal connections, but also they were on average about 10% larger, so the connections were stronger as well,” said one of the study’s senior authors.
“It was a real surprise to see such enduring changes from just one dose of psilocybin,” said another co-author of the study.
“These new connections may be the structural changes the brain uses to store new experiences.”