This open-label study (n=39) assessed the association between psilocybin lasting increases in trait mindfulness and the mystical-type experience using the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ). The MEQ was administered after psilocybin sessions (16-22mg/70kg), and mindfulness was measured three months post-session using the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS). MAAS score was significantly increased at the 3-month follow-up. It was positively associated with the MEQ score (p = 0.035), indicating that the phenomenology of the psilocybin experience induces a shift toward mindful living.
“Background: Psilocybin-induced mystical-type experiences are associated with lasting positive psychological outcomes. Recent studies indicate that trait mindfulness is increased 3 months after psilocybin intake, preceded by decreases in neocortical serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) binding. However, the association between psilocybin-induced mystical-type experiences and subsequent changes in trait mindfulness remains unexplored, as does the association between pre-drug trait mindfulness and 5-HT2AR binding in the healthy brain.
Aim: We evaluated whether psilocybin induced lasting increases in trait mindfulness in healthy volunteers, and whether the mystical-type experience was associated with this increase. We further examined the association between pre-drug trait mindfulness and 5-HT2AR binding in neocortex and selected frontolimbic regions.
Materials and methods: Forty-six medium-high dose psilocybin sessions were conducted in 39 healthy individuals. The mystical-type experience was measured with the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) at the end of the session. Trait mindfulness was measured using the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS) at baseline and 3 months after the psilocybin session. Thirty-two of the participants completed pre-drug [11C]-Cimbi-36 positron emission tomography (PET) to assess 5-HT2AR binding in neocortex and, post-hoc, in the frontolimbic regions amygdala, frontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex.
Results: The MAAS score was significantly increased at 3-month follow-up (p = 3.24 × 10–6), a change positively associated with the MEQ score (p = 0.035). Although the association between pre-drug MAAS score and neocortex 5-HT2AR binding was not significant (p = 0.24), post-hoc analyses revealed a significant negative association between MAAS and right amygdala 5-HT2AR binding (pFWER = 0.008).
Conclusion: We here show that lasting changes in trait mindfulness following psilocybin administration are positively associated with intensity of the mystical-type experience, suggesting that the acute phenomenology of psilocybin facilitates a shift in awareness conducive for mindful living. We furthermore show that higher pre-drug trait mindfulness is associated with reduced 5-HT2AR binding in the right amygdala.”
Authors: Anna Soendergaard, Martin K. Madsen, Brice Ozenne, Sophia Armand, Gitte M. Knudsen, Partick M. Fisher & Dea S. Stenbaek
Find this paper
Authors associated with this publication with profiles on BlossomGitte Knudsen
Gitte Moos Knudsen is the Chair Professor at the Neurology and Neurobiology Research Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, and director of the Center for Experimental Medicine Neuropharmacology (NeuroPharm).
Institutes associated with this publicationUniversity of Copenhagen
The Neurobiology Research Unit (NRU) at Copenhagen University Hospital have been carrying clinical and preclinical research with psychedelics since 2017.
The psychedelics given at which dose and how many timesPsilocybin 16 - 22
mg | 1x
Linked Research Papers
Notable research papers that build on or are influenced by this paperSubacute effects of a single dose of psilocybin on biomarkers of inflammation in healthy humans: An open-label preliminary investigation
This pre-print (n=16) assessed the effects of a single dose of psilocybin (15mg/70kg) on biomarkers of inflammation in healthy participants. Blood samples before and one day after the administration revealed that psilocybin did not significantly impact any of the selected biomarkers (p ≥ 0.23).
Psychedelic effects of psilocybin correlate with serotonin 2A receptor occupancy and plasma psilocin levels
This single-blind study (n=8) provides the first report of the positive correlation between the intensity of psychedelic effects, cerebral occupancy of the 5-HT2A receptor, and plasma psilocybin levels in humans after a single dose of psilocybin (3-30mg).
A single psilocybin dose is associated with long-term increased mindfulness, preceded by a proportional change in neocortical 5-HT2A receptor binding
This open-label study (n=10) found a significant increase in mindfulness (MAAS) and openness (NEO PI-R) after a single high dose (14-21mg) of psilocybin.
Psilocybin-induced changes in brain network integrity and segregation correlate with plasma psilocin level and psychedelic experience
This fMRI study (n=15) investigated the effects of psilocybin (14-21mg/70kg) on the brain and found that the higher the psilocin (active metabolite of psilocybin) and subjective drug experience (SDI) correlated with lower network integrity and segregation (less top-down, more bottom-up).