Study Finds That Ketamine, Psilocybin Improve Attention in Rodent Models

July 23, 2021 13:05:57

A new study has found that low doses of ketamine and psilocybin can boost attention and intensify motivation associated with food in low-performing rodents. Guy Higgins, lead author of the study and CEO of InterVivo Solutions, the company that carried out the study, stated that interest in the pharmacological effects of low doses of NMDA antagonists is what led the research team to study psilocybin and ketamine.

Anecdotal reports on micro-dosing psychedelics indicate that the substances improve cognitive function and mood in humans. However, very few appropriately controlled trials have been conducted in this field. Higgins explained that the objective of their study was to define the effects of these psychedelics in rodents using behavioral tests, noting that preclinical research into micro-dosing psychedelics was scant.

The study, which was placebo controlled, looked into the effects of different small doses of psilocybin and ketamine in rodent models. The scientists utilized the 5-choice task, which is a behavioral measure of impulsivity and attention, and the progressive ratio task, which is a behavioral measure of motivation and reward processing, to repeatedly test the rodents before beginning their experiment, in order to categorize them into two groups: the high and low performers.

The researchers discovered that low doses of both ketamine and psilocybin were linked to increases in impulsive action, attentional accuracy and task motivation in rodents classified as low performers.

Higgins explained that there existed no actual scientific consensus on what microdosing on psychedelics actually meant, as there are no stipulated dosing schedules or plasma levels. This, he continued, was why they defined behavioral effects and plasma exposures for both psilocybin and ketamine in their study and conducted tests relevant to depression that could be translated to humans. He noted that this could provide a point of reference for future research and facilitate their research in controlled human trials.

While microdosing on psychedelics has shown potential in improving mental health conditions, the majority of evidence is presently based on self reports recollected by individuals, which are prone to bias and errors. Furthermore, Higgins stated that having a scientific rationale of mechanism would be beneficial to the microdosing field, asserting that safety issues would also need to be addressed. This, he explained, was because low doses of psilocybin and ketamine would be administered more frequently, adding that the safety profile of the drugs could vary from the macro-dose range.

The study was reported in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” and was conducted by Higgins, Edward M. Sellers, Ines DeLannoy, Lilia Magomedova, Julia Izhakova, Sandy Thevarkunnel, Leo B. Silenieks, Cam MacMillan, Matt Brown and Nicole K. Carroll.

This study evaluating how ketamine and psilocybin affect attention and motivation isn’t the only study analyzing these substances. Several companies, including Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF), are looking to develop therapeutic formulations from psychedelics in order to take mental health care to the next level.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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