Assessing the Psychedelic "After-Glow" in Ayahuasca Users: Post-Acute Neurometabolic and Functional Connectivity Changes Are Associated with Enhanced Mindfulness Capacities.
ABSTRACT: Ayahuasca is a plant tea containing the psychedelic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine and harmala monoamine-oxidase inhibitors. Acute administration leads to neurophysiological modifications in brain regions of the default mode network, purportedly through a glutamatergic mechanism. Post-acutely, ayahuasca potentiates mindfulness capacities in volunteers and induces rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant patients. However, the mechanisms underlying these fast and maintained effects are poorly understood. Here, we investigated in an open-label uncontrolled study in 16 healthy volunteers ayahuasca-induced post-acute neurometabolic and connectivity modifications and their association with mindfulness measures.Using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and functional connectivity, we compared baseline and post-acute neurometabolites and seed-to-voxel connectivity in the posterior and anterior cingulate cortex after a single ayahuasca dose.Magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed post-acute reductions in glutamate+glutamine, creatine, and N-acetylaspartate+N-acetylaspartylglutamate in the posterior cingulate cortex. Connectivity was increased between the posterior cingulate cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, and between the anterior cingulate cortex and limbic structures in the right medial temporal lobe. Glutamate+glutamine reductions correlated with increases in the "nonjudging" subscale of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire. Increased anterior cingulate cortex-medial temporal lobe connectivity correlated with increased scores on the self-compassion questionnaire. Post-acute neural changes predicted sustained elevations in nonjudging 2 months later.These results support the involvement of glutamate neurotransmission in the effects of psychedelics in humans. They further suggest that neurometabolic changes in the posterior cingulate cortex, a key region within the default mode network, and increased connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobe structures involved in emotion and memory potentially underlie the post-acute psychological effects of ayahuasca.
Project description:The experiences induced by psychedelics share a wide variety of subjective features, related to the complex changes in perception and cognition induced by this class of drugs. A remarkable increase in introspection is at the core of these altered states of consciousness. Self-oriented mental activity has been consistently linked to the Default Mode Network (DMN), a set of brain regions more active during rest than during the execution of a goal-directed task. Here we used fMRI technique to inspect the DMN during the psychedelic state induced by Ayahuasca in ten experienced subjects. Ayahuasca is a potion traditionally used by Amazonian Amerindians composed by a mixture of compounds that increase monoaminergic transmission. In particular, we examined whether Ayahuasca changes the activity and connectivity of the DMN and the connection between the DMN and the task-positive network (TPN). Ayahuasca caused a significant decrease in activity through most parts of the DMN, including its most consistent hubs: the Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC)/Precuneus and the medial Prefrontal Cortex (mPFC). Functional connectivity within the PCC/Precuneus decreased after Ayahuasca intake. No significant change was observed in the DMN-TPN orthogonality. Altogether, our results support the notion that the altered state of consciousness induced by Ayahuasca, like those induced by psilocybin (another serotonergic psychedelic), meditation and sleep, is linked to the modulation of the activity and the connectivity of the DMN.
Project description:Evidence is provided for a new conceptualization of the connectivity and functions of the cingulate cortex in emotion, action, and memory. The anterior cingulate cortex receives information from the orbitofrontal cortex about reward and non-reward outcomes. The posterior cingulate cortex receives spatial and action-related information from parietal cortical areas. It is argued that these inputs allow the cingulate cortex to perform action-outcome learning, with outputs from the midcingulate motor area to premotor areas. In addition, because the anterior cingulate cortex connects rewards to actions, it is involved in emotion; and because the posterior cingulate cortex has outputs to the hippocampal system, it is involved in memory. These apparently multiple different functions of the cingulate cortex are related to the place of this proisocortical limbic region in brain connectivity.
Project description:Human cingulate cortex (CC) has been implicated in many functions, which is highly suggestive of the existence of functional subregions.In this study, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to parcellate the human cingulate cortex (CC) based on resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) patterns and anatomical connectivity (AC) patterns, to analyze the rsFC patterns and the AC patterns of different subregions, and to recognize whether the parcellation results obtained by the two different methods were consistent.The CC was divided into six functional subregions, including the anterior cingulate cortex, dorsal anterior midcingulate cortex, ventral anterior midcingulate cortex, posterior midcingulate cortex, dorsal posterior cingulate cortex, and ventral posterior cingulate cortex. The CC was also divided into ten anatomical subregions, termed Subregion 1 (S1) to Subregion 10 (S10). Each subregion showed specific connectivity patterns, although the functional subregions and the anatomical subregions were internally consistent.Using different model MRI images, we established a parcellation scheme, which is internally consistent for the human CC, which may provide an in vivo guide for subregion-level studies and improve our understanding of this brain area at subregional levels.
Project description:Stress-induced changes in functional brain connectivity have been linked to the etiology of stress-related disorders. Resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) is especially informative in characterizing the temporal trajectory of glucocorticoids during stress adaptation. Using the imaging Maastricht Acute Stress Test (iMAST), we induced acute stress in 39 healthy volunteers and monitored the neuroendocrine stress levels during three runs of resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI): before (run 1), immediately following (run 2), and 30 min after acute stress (run 3). The iMAST resulted in strong increases in cortisol levels. Whole-brain analysis revealed that acute stress (run 2 - 1) was characterized by changes in connectivity of the amygdala with the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC), ventral posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), cuneus, parahippocampal gyrus, and culmen. Additionally, cortisol responders were characterized by enhanced amygdala - medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) connectivity. Stress recovery (run 3 - 2) was characterized by altered amygdala connectivity with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), ventral and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), anterior hippocampal complex, cuneus, and presupplementary motor area (preSMA). Opposite to non-responders, cortisol responders were characterized by enhanced amygdala connectivity with the anterior hippocampal complex and parahippocampal gyrus, and reduced connectivity with left dlPFC, dACC, and culmen during early recovery. Acute stress responding and recovery are thus associated with changes in the functional connectivity of the amygdala network. Our findings show that these changes may be regulated via stress-induced neuroendocrine levels. Defining stress-induced neuronal network changes is pertinent to developing treatments that target abnormal neuronal activity.
Project description:Pathophysiologic models of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have focused on frontal-striatal circuitry with alternative hypotheses relatively unexplored. On the basis of evidence that negative interactions between frontal foci involved in cognitive control and the non-goal-directed "default-mode" network prevent attentional lapses, we hypothesized abnormalities in functional connectivity of these circuits in ADHD.Resting-state blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were obtained at 3.0-Tesla in 20 adults with ADHD and 20 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers.Examination of healthy control subjects verified presence of an antiphasic or negative relationship between activity in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (centered at x = 8, y = 7, z = 38) and in default-mode network components. Group analyses revealed ADHD-related compromises in this relationship, with decreases in the functional connectivity between the anterior cingulate and precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex regions (p < .0004, corrected). Secondary analyses revealed an extensive pattern of ADHD-related decreases in connectivity between precuneus and other default-mode network components, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (p < 3 x 10(-11), corrected) and portions of posterior cingulate (p < .02, corrected).Together with prior unbiased anatomic evidence of posterior volumetric abnormalities, our findings suggest that the long-range connections linking dorsal anterior cingulate to posterior cingulate and precuneus should be considered as a candidate locus of dysfunction in ADHD.
Project description:Mindfulness meditation training has been shown to increase resting-state functional connectivity between nodes of the frontoparietal executive control network (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPFC]) and the default mode network (posterior cingulate cortex [PCC]). We investigated whether these effects generalized to a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and tested for structural and behaviorally relevant consequences of change in connectivity. Healthy, meditation-naïve adults were randomized to either MBSR (N =?48), an active (N =?47) or waitlist (N =?45) control group. Participants completed behavioral testing, resting-state fMRI scans and diffusion tensor scans at pre-randomization (T1), post-intervention (T2) and ~5.5 months later (T3). We found increased T2-T1 PCC-DLPFC resting connectivity for MBSR relative to control groups. Although these effects did not persist through long-term follow-up (T3-T1), MBSR participants showed a significantly stronger relationship between days of practice (T1 to T3) and increased PCC-DLPFC resting connectivity than participants in the active control group. Increased PCC-DLPFC resting connectivity in MBSR participants was associated with increased microstructural connectivity of a white matter tract connecting these regions and increased self-reported attention. These data show that MBSR increases PCC-DLPFC resting connectivity, which is related to increased practice time, attention and structural connectivity.
Project description:Despite much research on the function of the insular cortex, few studies have investigated functional subdivisions of the insula in humans. The present study used resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to parcellate the human insular lobe based on clustering of functional connectivity patterns. Connectivity maps were computed for each voxel in the insula based on resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) data and segregated using cluster analysis. We identified 3 insular subregions with distinct patterns of connectivity: a posterior region, functionally connected with primary and secondary somatomotor cortices; a dorsal anterior to middle region, connected with dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, along with other regions of a previously described control network; and a ventral anterior region, primarily connected with pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. Applying these regions to a separate task data set, we found that dorsal and ventral anterior insula responded selectively to disgusting images, while posterior insula did not. These results demonstrate that clustering of connectivity patterns can be used to subdivide cerebral cortex into anatomically and functionally meaningful subregions; the insular regions identified here should be useful in future investigations on the function of the insula.
Project description:Anxiety is the cognitive state related to the inability to control emotional responses to perceived threats. Anxiety is inversely related to brain activity associated with the cognitive regulation of emotions. Mindfulness meditation has been found to regulate anxiety. However, the brain mechanisms involved in meditation-related anxiety relief are largely unknown. We employed pulsed arterial spin labeling MRI to compare the effects of distraction in the form of attending to the breath (ATB; before meditation training) to mindfulness meditation (after meditation training) on state anxiety across the same subjects. Fifteen healthy subjects, with no prior meditation experience, participated in 4 d of mindfulness meditation training. ATB did not reduce state anxiety, but state anxiety was significantly reduced in every session that subjects meditated. Meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex and anterior insula. Meditation-related activation in these regions exhibited a strong relationship to anxiety relief when compared to ATB. During meditation, those who exhibited greater default-related activity (i.e. posterior cingulate cortex) reported greater anxiety, possibly reflecting an inability to control self-referential thoughts. These findings provide evidence that mindfulness meditation attenuates anxiety through mechanisms involved in the regulation of self-referential thought processes.
Project description:UNLABELLED:The insular cortex (IC) and cingulate cortex (CC) are critically involved in pain perception. Previously we demonstrated that fibromyalgia (FM) patients have greater connectivity between the insula and default mode network at rest, and that changes in the degree of this connectivity were associated with changes in the intensity of ongoing clinical pain. In this study we more thoroughly evaluated the degree of resting-state connectivity to multiple regions of the IC in individuals with FM and healthy controls. We also investigated the relationship between connectivity, experimental pain, and current clinical chronic pain. Functional connectivity was assessed using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in 18 FM patients and 18 age- and sex-matched healthy controls using predefined seed regions in the anterior, middle, and posterior IC. FM patients exhibited greater connectivity between 1) right mid IC and right mid/posterior CC and right mid IC, 2) right posterior IC and left CC, and 3) right anterior IC and left superior temporal gyrus. Healthy controls displayed greater connectivity between left anterior IC and bilateral medial frontal gyrus/anterior cingulate cortex; and left posterior IC and right superior frontal gyrus. Within the FM group, greater connectivity between the IC and CC was associated with decreased pressure-pain thresholds. PERSPECTIVE:These data provide further support for altered resting-state connectivity between the IC and other brain regions known to participate in pain perception/modulation, which may play a pathogenic role in conditions such as FM. We speculate that altered IC connectivity is associated with the experience of chronic pain in individuals with FM.