Natasha L Mason

Natasha L Mason
Maastricht University | UM · Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology

PhD

About

47
Publications
35,997
Reads
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745
Citations
Introduction
Natasha Mason PhD, is a post-doc at Maastricht University, Dept of Psychopharmacology. She has a background in (neuro)psychology and pharmacy. Utilizing multimodal study designs, her current research assesses drug-induced neuroadaptations and their influence on affect, behavior, and cognition. Within this focus, she has a strong interest in the underlying mechanisms of psychedelic drug action, and particularly those which may hold therapeutic value for disorders like anxiety and depression.
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - October 2020
Maastricht University
Position
  • PhD Student
November 2015 - February 2016
Maastricht University
Position
  • Research Intern
Description
  • Thesis: Pay Attention: Investigating the relationship between attentional deficits and network alterations during THC intoxication
January 2013 - July 2014
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Research Assistant
Description
  • Studied the cognitive and physiological correlates of stress in health and disease.
Education
August 2014 - August 2016
Maastricht University
Field of study
  • Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience
September 2010 - May 2014
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (47)
Article
Full-text available
Background Novel psychedelics (NPs) are an expanding set of compounds, presenting new challenges for drug policy and opportunities for clinical research. Unlike their classical derivatives, little is known regarding their use profiles or their subjective effects. Aims The purpose of this study was to compile usage patterns and adverse event rates...
Article
Clinical research into serotonergic psychedelics is expanding rapidly, showing promising efficacy across myriad disorders. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) is a commonly used strategy to identify psychedelic-induced changes in neural pathways in clinical and healthy populations. Here we, a large group of psychedelic ima...
Article
Full-text available
Due to differences in potency, efficacy, and affinity for CB1 receptors, similarities and differences in psychoactive effect profiles of natural cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) cannot reliably be derived from equipotent dose comparisons. Instead, the current study proposes to compare the intrinsic psychoactive effects of natural cannabis...
Article
Full-text available
Currently, the assessment of the neurobehavioral consequences of repeated cannabis use is restricted to studies in which brain function of chronic cannabis users is compared to that of non-cannabis using controls. The assumption of such studies is that changes in brain function of chronic users are caused by repeated and prolonged exposure to acute...
Article
Full-text available
There has been a renewed interest in the potential use of psychedelics for the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Nevertheless, little is known about the mechanism of action and molecular pathways influenced by ayahuasca use in humans. Therefore, for the first time, our study aims to investigate the human metabolomics signature after consumption...
Preprint
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychiatric disorders among Western countries. Evidence-based treatment modalities including pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral therapy result in relatively low response rates (average range: 51 - 58%). Historical and recent research suggests psychedelic drugs may be efficacious in alleviating anx...
Article
Full-text available
Resting state fMRI has been employed to identify alterations in functional connectivity within or between brain regions following acute and chronic exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis. Most studies focused a priori on a limited number of local brain areas or circuits, without considering the impact of c...
Article
Background: Controversy surrounds psychedelics and their potential to boost creativity. To date, psychedelic studies lack a uniform conceptualization of creativity and methodologically rigorous designs. Aims: This study aimed at addressing previous issues by examining the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on creativity using multimodal...
Article
Full-text available
5‐methoxy‐N,N‐dimethyltryptamine (5‐MeO‐DMT) is a naturally occurring tryptamine that primarily acts as an agonist at the 5‐HT1A and 5‐HT2A receptors, whereby affinity for the 5‐HT1A subtype is highest. Subjective effects following 5‐MeO‐DMT administration include distortions in auditory and time perception, amplification of emotional states and fe...
Article
Full-text available
5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a tryptamine with ultra-rapid onset and short duration of psychedelic effects. Prospective studies for other tryptamines have suggested beneficial effects on mental health outcomes. In preparation for a study in patients with depression, the present study GH001-HV-101 aimed to assess the impact of fou...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Naturalistic and placebo-controlled studies have suggested that ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian beverage, could be helpful in the treatment of psychopathologies like depression and anxiety disorders by changing otherwise disturbed cognitive and emotional processes. To better understand its full therapeutic potential, one way is to st...
Article
Full-text available
Clinical studies suggest the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, including ayahuasca, DMT, psilocybin, and LSD, in stress-related disorders. These substances induce cognitive, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antiaddictive effects suggested to arise from biological changes similar to conventional antidepressants or the rapid-acting substance keta...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the psychedelic plant tea, ayahuasca, holds therapeutic potential. Uthaug et al. (2018) demonstrated that a single dose of ayahuasca improved mental health sub-acutely and 4-weeks post-ceremony in healthy participants. The present study aimed to replicate and extend these findi...
Article
Full-text available
Ayahuasca is a plant concoction containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and certain β-carboline alkaloids from South America. Previous research in naturalistic settings has suggested that ingestion of ayahuasca can improve mental health and well-being; however, these studies were not placebo controlled and did not control for the possibility of exp...
Article
Acute cannabis intoxication may induce neurocognitive impairment and is a possible cause of human error, injury and psychological distress. One of the major concerns raised about increasing cannabis legalization and the therapeutic use of cannabis is that it will increase cannabis‐related harm. However, the impairing effect of cannabis during intox...
Article
Full-text available
Creativity is an essential cognitive ability linked to all areas of our everyday functioning. Thus, finding a way to enhance it is of broad interest. A large number of anecdotal reports suggest that the consumption of psychedelic drugs can enhance creative thinking; however, scientific evidence is lacking. Following a double-blind, placebo-controll...
Chapter
There is increasing evidence of the potential therapeutic value of the psychedelic brew ayahuasca for disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety. While the focus has been on ayahuasca’s capacity to reduce symptoms of these disorders, including enhancing mood state and well-being, little attention has been paid to the (higher-order) cognitive proc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Resting state fMRI has been employed to identify alterations in functional connectivity within or between brain regions following acute and chronic exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis. Most studies focused a priori on a limited number of local brain areas or circuits, without considering the impact of c...
Article
Full-text available
There is a popular interest in microdosing with psychedelics such as LSD. This practice of using one-tenth of a full psychedelic dose according to a specific dosing schedule, anecdotally enhances mood and performance. Nonetheless, controlled research on the efficacy of microdosing is scarce. The main objective of the present dose-finding study was...
Article
Full-text available
"Microdoses" of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are used recreationally to enhance mood and cognition. Increasing interest has also been seen in developing LSD into a medication. Therefore, we performed a pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic study using very low doses of LSD. Single doses of LSD base (5, 10, and 20 µg) and placebo were administered in...
Article
Despite preclinical evidence for psychedelic-induced neuroplasticity, confirmation in humans is grossly lacking. Given the increased interest in using low doses of psychedelics for psychiatric indications, and the importance of neuroplasticity in the therapeutic response, this placebo-controlled within-subject study investigated the effect of singl...
Article
Full-text available
Background Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is an ergot alkaloid derivative with psychedelic properties that has been implicated in the management of persistent pain. Clinical studies in the 1960s and 1970s have demonstrated profound analgesic effects of full doses of LSD in terminally ill patients, but this line of research evaporated after LSD wa...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing interest in the therapeutic utility of psychedelic substances, like psilocybin, for disorders characterized by distortions of the self-experience, like depression. Accumulating preclinical evidence emphasizes the role of the glutamate system in the acute action of the drug on brain and behavior; however this has never been tested i...
Article
Acute exposure to cannabis comes with neurocognitive impairment, leading to increased risk of human error and injury. Evidence however indicates that such acute effects are less prominent in chronic users, suggesting cannabis tolerance. Models of cannabis tolerance stress the importance of neurobiological or behavioral adaptations following repeate...
Article
Full-text available
Background: It has been suggested that the outcome of the psychedelic experience is dependent on set and setting. While scientific research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics is growing, it is clear that in clinical populations an optimal set and setting will not always be attainable. It was aimed to assess under which emotional and env...
Article
Full-text available
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. However, because of a changing legal landscape and rising interest in therapeutic utility, there is an increasing trend in (long-term) use and possibly cannabis impairment. Importantly, a growing body of evidence suggests that regular cannabis users develop tolerance to the impairing, as...
Article
Full-text available
Background: There is a growing interest in the use of psychedelic substances for health related purposes, including symptom relief for disorders like anxiety, depression, and pain. Although the focus of recent clinical trials has been on high doses of these substances, anecdotal evidence suggests that low (micro) doses are also effective, and may b...
Article
Full-text available
Background 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (hereinafter referred to as 5-MeO-DMT) is a psychedelic substance found in the secretion from the parotoid glands of the Bufo alvarius toad. Inhalation of vapor from toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT has become popular in naturalistic settings as a treatment of mental health problems or as a means for s...
Article
Full-text available
Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are compounds designed to mimic the effects of existing recreational drugs (classical psychoactive substances [CPS]), while eluding established legal frameworks. Little is known about their effects and potential harms, rendering the increasing number of NPS a challenge to policy makers and researchers alike. Quan...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. However due to a changing legal landscape, and rising interest in therapeutic utility, there is an increasing trend in (long-term) use and possibly, cannabis impairment. Importantly, a growing body of evidence suggests regular cannabis users develop tolerance to the impairing, as well as...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Microdosing with psychedelics has gained considerable media attention where it is portrayed as a performance enhancer, especially popular on the work floor. While reports are in general positive, scientific evidence about potential negative effects is lacking aside from the prevalence and motives for use. The present study addressed th...
Article
Introduction: Synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easily accessible for years, leading to the belief that these products were natural and harmless, which contributed to their popularity. Nevertheless, there are many reports of users ending up in hospital due to severe side effects such as tachycardia, aggression, and psychosis. Controlled stud...
Article
Full-text available
Creative thinking and empathy are crucial for everyday interactions and subjective well-being. This is emphasized by studies showing a reduction in these skills in populations where social interaction and subjective well-being are significantly compromised (e.g., depression). Anecdotal reports and recent studies suggest that a single administration...
Article
Full-text available
The phenethylamine 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA) is a so-called novel psychoactive substance with a chemical structure resembling that of amphetamine and MDMA. Since 4-FA users report their subjective experience ranges between the effects induced by amphetamine and MDMA, and it is known that both substances can produce an altered state of consciousnes...
Article
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug and is known to alter state of consciousness and impair neurocognitive function. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects have yet to be fully elucidated. Rodent studies suggest that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activates dopaminergic neurons in the limbic system, subsequently enhancing dopam...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale Ayahuasca is a psychotropic plant tea from South America used for religious purposes by indigenous people of the Amazon. Increasing evidence indicates that ayahuasca may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of mental health disorders and can enhance mindfulness-related capacities. Most research so far has focused on acute and sub-a...
Article
Full-text available
Background: New psychoactive substances (NPS) are chemical analogues designed to mimic the effects of various classic recreational drugs of abuse including MDMA, LSD, and cannabis. NPS use is associated with concern about the acute and longer-term effects particular substances might have, with abuse and addiction as potential consequences. Impulsi...
Article
Full-text available
Availability of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) exponentially increased over the last years. Risk evaluations of NPS are hampered by the lack of pharmacological studies in humans on health parameters. The aim of the present study was to evaluate safety and neurocognitive function of healthy volunteers (N = 12) who received single doses of 100 a...
Article
Full-text available
Background: A substantial number of people worldwide suffer from mental health problems during their lifetime. First-line treatments are not effective for everybody. Recent studies suggest that psychedelic drugs have high therapeutic potential for a variety of mental disorders. Aims: This survey study aimed to assess the tendency of psychedelic us...
Article
Background and purpose: Synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as Spice or K2) have become a very popular alternative to cannabis due to the easy access and portrayed safety. Controlled studies on the behavioral effects of synthetic cannabinoids are currently lacking, which hampers risk assessments of these compounds. Experimental approach: This is...

Questions

Questions (3)
Question
This question sounds a bit contradictory, and also naive, but am wondering if there is a way to "capture" default mode network activity in the form of a behavioral or subjective measure. We will also do a resting state scan in our experiment, however we would like to "measure" this activity at multiple times throughout the day, before and after scanning.
Question
Looking for 2 different human brain receptor maps: for cannabinoid 1 receptor density and oxytocin receptor density, to compare fMRI images to. Does anyone know of any online resources, or groups to contact for collaboration?
Question
Can anyone recommend a drug that either a) increases tonic dopamine in the striatum and has a short half-life, or b) decreases tonic DA but does not affect phasic DA?