“Psychedelics have this property, which William James pointed out over 100 years ago, of creating this sense of what he called the noetic property, this feeling that ‘Now that I’ve had this experience, I know the really real. The true truth has been revealed to me, and everything before this moment was just a facade or some lesser truth or some limited access to the truth. But now I really know.’ For a scientist, that’s pretty dangerous.”— Dr. Gül Dölen
Dr. Gül Dölen is an associate professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a pioneer and world leader of psychedelics research. Her laboratory has discovered a novel mechanism that could account for the broad range of therapeutic applications that psychedelics are currently being tested for. Her lab has discovered a novel critical period for social reward learning and shown that this critical period can be reopened with psychedelic drugs, such as MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ketamine, and ibogaine. Building on this discovery, she has formulated the hypothesis that psychedelics may be the long sought “master key” for unlocking critical periods across the brain. To test this hypothesis, she has initiated a nationwide, collaborative effort to determine whether psychedelics reopen critical periods for ocular dominance plasticity, bird song learning, anatomical plasticity in the barrel cortex, serotonergic neuronal regeneration, dendritic spinogenesis, and motor learning.
Importantly, understanding psychedelics through this framework dramatically expands the scope of disorders (including autism, stroke, and allergies) that might benefit from adjunct therapy with psychedelics, an approach she has dubbed the PHATHOM project (Psychedelic Healing: Adjunct Therapy Harnessing Opened Malleability).
Dr. Dölen earned her MD, PhD at Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she carried out seminal work on critical periods, learning and memory, and the pathogenesis of autism.
The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.
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Want to hear an episode with someone else who’s pushing us toward a greater understanding of how psychedelics can be used to heal us? Listen to my conversation with Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, in which we discussed how ketamine differs from other psychedelics, obstacles to getting ketamine labeled as an antidepressant, the difficulty of applying placebo controls to psychedelic research, avoiding another 50 years of psychedelic research darkness, where aspiring psychedelic researchers should focus their education, and much more.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…Continue reading “Dr. Gül Dölen on Rethinking Psychedelics, New Applications (Autism, Stroke, and Allergies), The Neurobiology of Beginner’s Mind, Octopuses on MDMA, and The Master Key of Metaplasticity (#667)”