Robin L Carhart-Harris

Robin L Carhart-Harris
Imperial College London | Imperial · Division of Experimental Medicine

BSc, MA, PhD

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165
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (165)
Preprint
To understand how pharmacological interventions can exert their powerful effects on brain function, we need to understand how they engage the brain's rich neurotransmitter landscape. Here, we bridge microscale molecular chemoarchitecture and pharmacologically-induced macroscale functional reorganisation, by relating the regional distribution of 18...
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Emergence is a profound subject that straddles many scientific disciplines, including the formation of galaxies and how consciousness arises from the collective activity of neurons. Despite the broad interest that exists on this concept, the study of emergence has suffered from a lack of formalisms that could be used to guide discussions and advanc...
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Rationale Classic psychedelics are currently being studied as novel treatments for a range of psychiatric disorders. However, research on how psychedelics interact with other psychoactive substances remains scarce. Objectives The current study aimed to explore the subjective effects of psychedelics when used alongside cannabis. Methods Participan...
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Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy with psilocybin is an emerging therapy with great promise for depression, and modern psychedelic therapy (PT) methods incorporate music as a key element. Music is an effective emotional/hedonic stimulus that could also be useful in assessing changes in emotional responsiveness following psychedelic therapy. Brain...
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Schizophrenia and states induced by certain psychotomimetic drugs may share some physiological and phenomenological properties, but they differ in fundamental ways: one is a crippling chronic mental disease, while the others are temporary, pharmacologically-induced states presently being explored as treatments for mental illnesses. Building towards...
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Introduction As their name suggests, ‘psychedelic’ (mind-revealing) compounds are thought to catalyse processes of psychological insight; however, few satisfactory scales exist to sample this. This study sought to develop a new scale to measure psychological insight after a psychedelic experience: the Psychological Insight Scale (PIS). Methods The...
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The present study examines prospective changes in personality traits relevant to social functioning as well as perceived social connectedness in relation to the naturalistic use of psychedelic compounds in an online volunteer sample. The study also examined the degree to which demographic characteristics, social setting, baseline personality, and a...
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Can the use of psychedelic drugs induce lasting changes in metaphysical beliefs? While it is popularly believed that they can, this question has never been formally tested. Here we exploited a large sample derived from prospective online surveying to determine whether and how beliefs concerning the nature of reality, consciousness, and free-will, c...
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A central question in neuroscience concerns the relationship between consciousness and its physical substrate. Here, we argue that a richer characterization of consciousness can be obtained by viewing it as constituted of distinct information-theoretic elements. In other words, we propose a shift from quantification of consciousness—viewed as integ...
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Emergence is a profound subject that straddles many scientific disciplines, including the formation of galaxies and how consciousness arises from the collective activity of neurons. Despite the broad interest that exists on this concept, the study of emergence has suffered from a lack of formalisms that could be used to guide discussions and advanc...
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Background: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious and life-threatening psychiatric condition. With a paucity of approved treatments, there is a desperate need for novel treatment avenues to be explored. Here, we present (1) an overview of the ways through which Public Patient Involvement (PPI) has informed a trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for AN...
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Complex systems, from the human brain to the global economy, are made of multiple elements that interact in such ways that the behaviour of the `whole' often seems to be more than what is readily explainable in terms of the `sum of the parts.' Our ability to understand and control these systems remains limited, one reason being that we still don't...
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In the last 15 years, psychedelic substances, such as LSD and psilocybin, have regained legitimacy in clinical research. In the general population as well as across various psychiatric populations, mental well-being has been found to significantly improve after a psychedelic experience. Mental well-being has large socioeconomic relevance, but it is...
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Healthful behaviours such as maintaining a balanced diet, being physically active and refraining from smoking have major impacts on the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other serious conditions. The burden of the so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’—in personal suffering, premature mortality and public health costs—is cons...
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Psychedelics like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin offer a powerful window into the function of the human brain and mind, by temporarily altering subjective experience through their neurochemical effects. The RElaxed Beliefs Under Psychedelics (REBUS) model postulates that 5-HT2a receptor agonism allows the brain to explore its dynam...
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Favourable regulatory assessments, liberal policy changes, new research centres and substantial commercial investment signal that psychedelic therapy is making a major comeback. Positive findings from modern trials are catalysing developments, but it is questionable whether current confirmatory trials are sufficient for advancing our understanding...
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LSD and psilocybin are serotonergic psychedelic compounds with potential in the treatment of mental health disorders. Past neuroimaging investigations have revealed that both compounds can elicit significant changes to whole-brain functional organization and dynamics. A recent proposal linked past findings into a unified model and hypothesized redu...
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Microdosing is the practice of regularly using low doses of psychedelic drugs. Anecdotal reports suggest that microdosing enhances well-being and cognition; however, such accounts are potentially biased by the placebo effect. This study used a ‘self-blinding’ citizen science initiative, where participants were given online instructions on how to in...
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Microdosing is the practice of regularly using low doses of psychedelic drugs. Anecdotal reports suggest that microdosing enhances well-being and cognition; however, such accounts are potentially biased by the placebo effect. This study used a ‘self-blinding’ citizen science initiative, where participants were given online instructions on how to in...
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Investigating changes in brain function induced by mind-altering substances such as LSD is a powerful method for interrogating and understanding how mind interfaces with brain, by connecting novel psychological phenomena with their neurobiological correlates. LSD is known to increase measures of brain complexity, potentially reflecting a neurobiolo...
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Full-text available
A central question in neuroscience concerns the relationship between consciousness and its physical substrate. Here, we argue that a richer characterisation of consciousness can be obtained by viewing it not as a monolithic construct, but rather as constituted of distinct information-theoretic elements. In other words, we propose a shift from quant...
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Full-text available
Psychedelic microdosing describes the ingestion of near-threshold perceptible doses of classic psychedelic substances. Anecdotal reports and observational studies suggest that microdosing may promote positive mood and well-being, but recent placebo-controlled studies failed to find compelling evidence for this. The present study collected web-based...
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Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a potent psychedelic drug, which has seen a revival in clinical and pharmacological research within recent years. Human neuroimaging studies have shown fundamental changes in brain-wide functional connectivity and an expansion of dynamical brain states, thus raising the question about a mechanistic explanation of...
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Serotonergic psychedelics have been suggested to mirror certain aspects of psychosis, and, more generally, elicit a state of consciousness underpinned by increased entropy of on-going neural activity. We investigated the hypothesis that language produced under the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) should exhibit increased entropy and redu...
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The broad concept of emergence is instrumental in various of the most challenging open scientific questions—yet, few quantitative theories of what constitutes emergent phenomena have been proposed. This article introduces a formal theory of causal emergence in multivariate systems, which studies the relationship between the dynamics of parts of a s...
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The non-selective serotonin 2A (5-HT 2A ) receptor agonist lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) holds promise as a treatment for some psychiatric disorders. Psychedelic drugs such as LSD have been suggested to have therapeutic actions through their effects on learning. The behavioural effects of LSD in humans, however, remain largely unexplored. Here w...
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Therapeutic psychedelic administration and contact with nature have been associated with the same psychological mechanisms: decreased rumination and negative affect, enhanced psychological connectedness and mindfulness-related capacities, and heightened states of awe and transcendent experiences, all processes linked to improvements in mental healt...
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A central goal of neuroscience is to understand how the brain synthesises information from multiple inputs to give rise to a unified conscious experience. This process is widely believed to require integration of information. Here, we combine information theory and network science to address two fundamental questions: how is the human information-p...
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BACKGROUND The resurgence of research and public interest in the positive psychological effects of psychedelics, together with advancements in digital data collection techniques, have brought forth a new type of research design, gathering large-scale naturalistic data from psychedelic users prospectively, i.e. before and after use of a psychedelic...
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Recent findings have shown that psychedelics reliably enhance brain entropy (understood as neural signal diversity), and this effect has been associated with both acute and long-term psychological outcomes such as personality changes. These findings are particularly intriguing given that a decrease of brain entropy is a robust indicator of loss of...
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Objective To conduct a systematic review of modern‐era (post‐millennium) clinical studies assessing the therapeutic effects of serotonergic psychedelics drugs for mental health conditions. Although the main focus was on efficacy and safety, study characteristics, duration of antidepressants effects across studies, and the role of the subjective dr...
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Psychedelic drugs, including lysergic acid diethylamide and other agonists of the serotonin 2A receptor (5HT2A-R), induce drastic changes in subjective experience, and provide a unique opportunity to study the neurobiological basis of consciousness. One of the most notable neurophysiological signatures of psychedelics, increased entropy in spontane...
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Psychedelic drugs are potent modulators of conscious states and therefore powerful tools for investigating their neurobiology. N,N, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can rapidly induce an extremely immersive state of consciousness characterized by vivid and elaborate visual imagery. Here, we investigated the electrophysiological correlates of the DMT induce...
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The recent renaissance of psychedelic science has reignited interest in the similarity of drug-induced experiences to those more commonly observed in psychiatric contexts such as the schizophrenia-spectrum. This report from a multidisciplinary working group of the International Consortium on Hallucinations Research (ICHR) addresses this issue, putt...
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Purpose: Psychedelic therapy is showing promise for a broad range of mental health conditions, indicative of a transdiagnostic action. While the efficacy of symptom-focused treatments for eating disorders (EDs) is limited, improved mental health and psychological wellbeing are thought to contribute to greater treatment outcomes. This study provide...
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Background N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a short acting psychedelic tryptamine found naturally in many plants and animals. Few studies to date addressed the neural and psychological effects of DMT alone, either administered intravenously or inhaled in freebase form, and none conducted in natural settings. Aims Our primary aim was to study the ac...
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A central question in neuroscience is how cognition and consciousness arise from human brain activity. Here, we decompose cortical dynamics of resting-state functional MRI into their constituent elements: the harmonics of the human connectome. Mapping a wide spectrum of consciousness onto these elementary brain states reveals a generalisable connec...
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In the 1950s, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz, which employed the chemist Albert Hofmann, who discovered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and the similar serotonergic psychedelic psilocybin, made these drugs available to the psychiatric research community as the products Delysid and Indocybin, respectively. By the 1960s, these drugs had cau...
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Psychedelic therapy shows promise as a novel intervention for a wide range of mental health concerns but its therapeutic action is incompletely understood. In line with acceptance and commitment therapy’s (ACT’s) transdiagnostic model, qualitative research has suggested that reductions in experiential avoidance are an important component of therape...
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Background 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is being actively researched as an adjunct to psychotherapy. It may be beneficial to trust, empathy and cooperative behaviour due to its acute prosocial effects. Aim To test (a) the acute effects of MDMA on measures of empathy, trust and cooperative behaviour, and (b) subacute changes in mood thr...
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Psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin and LSD, represent unique tools for researchers investigating the neural origins of consciousness. Currently, the most compelling theories of how psychedelics exert their effects is by increasing the complexity of brain activity and moving the system towards a critical point between order and disorder, creating...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psychedelic drugs, including lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other agonists of the serotonin 2A receptor (5HT2A-R), induce drastic changes in subjective experience, and provide a unique opportunity to study the neurobiological basis of consciousness. One of the most notable neurophysiological signatures of psychedelics, increased entropy in sp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psychedelic drugs are potent modulators of conscious states and therefore powerful tools for investigating their neurobiology. N,N, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a particularly interesting serotonergic psychedelic that can rapidly induce an extremely immersive state of consciousness characterized by vivid and elaborate visual imagery. In the present...
Preprint
Full-text available
The broad concept of emergence is instrumental in various of the most challenging open scientific questions -- yet, few quantitative theories of what constitutes emergent phenomena have been proposed. This article introduces a formal theory of causal emergence in multivariate systems, which studies the relationship between the dynamics of parts of...
Article
Full-text available
Remarkable progress has come from whole-brain models linking anatomy and function. Paradoxically, it is not clear how a neuronal dynamical system running in the fixed human anatomical connectome can give rise to the rich changes in the functional repertoire associated with human brain function, which is impossible to explain through long-term plast...
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After a legally mandated, decades-long global arrest of research on psychedelic drugs, investigation of psychedelics in the context of psychiatric disorders is yielding exciting results. Outcomes of neuroscience and clinical research into 5-Hydroxytryptamine 2A (5-HT2A) receptor agonists, such as psilocybin, show promise for addressing a range of s...
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Contemporary investigations regard creativity as a dynamic form of cognition that involves movement between the dissociable stages of creative generation and creative evaluation. Our recently proposed Dynamic Framework of Thought (Christoff et al., 2016) offered a conceptualization of these stages in terms of an interplay between sources of constra...
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Background Psilocybin has shown promise as a treatment for depression but its therapeutic mechanisms are not properly understood. In contrast to the presumed actions of antidepressants, we recently found increased amygdala responsiveness to fearful faces one day after open-label treatment with psilocybin (25 mg) in 19 patients with treatment-resist...
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Research has shown that psychedelics, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), have profound anti-inflammatory properties mediated by 5-HT2A receptor signaling, supporting their evaluation as a therapeutic for neuroinflammation associated with neurodegenerative disease. Objective This study evaluated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, an...
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1) Background: There appears to be a growing disconnection between humans and their natural environments which has been linked to poor mental health and ecological destruction. Previous research suggests that individual levels of nature relatedness can be increased through the use of classical psychedelic compounds, although a causal link between p...
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Full-text available
Neuroimaging studies of the psychedelic state offer a unique window onto the neural basis of conscious perception and selfhood. Despite well understood pharmacological mechanisms of action, the large-scale changes in neural dynamics induced by psychedelic compounds remain poorly understood. Using source-localised, steady-state MEG recordings, we de...
Article
Full-text available
Studying transitions in and out of the altered state of consciousness caused by intravenous (IV) N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT - a fast-acting tryptamine psychedelic) offers a safe and powerful means of advancing knowledge on the neurobiology of conscious states. Here we sought to investigate the effects of IV DMT on the power spectrum and signal div...
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Full-text available
Background Recent research demonstrated the potential of psychedelic drugs as treatment for depression and death-related anxiety and as an enhancement for well-being. While generally positive, responses to psychedelic drugs can vary according to traits, setting, and mental state (set) before and during ingestion. Most earlier models explain minimal...
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Full-text available
Most information dynamics and statistical causal analysis frameworks rely on the common intuition that causal interactions are intrinsically pairwise -- every 'cause' variable has an associated 'effect' variable, so that a 'causal arrow' can be drawn between them. However, analyses that depict interdependencies as directed graphs fail to discrimina...
Preprint
Full-text available
Studying transitions in and out of the altered state of consciousness caused by intravenous (IV) N,N- Dimethyltryptamine (DMT - a fast-acting tryptamine psychedelic) offers a safe and powerful means of advancing knowledge on the neurobiology of conscious states. Here we sought to investigate the effects of IV DMT on the power spectrum and signal di...
Preprint
Full-text available
Neuroimaging studies of the psychedelic state offer a unique window onto the neural basis of conscious perception and selfhood. Despite well understood pharmacological mechanisms of action, the large-scale changes in neural dynamics induced by psychedelic compounds remain poorly understood. Using source-localised, steady-state MEG recordings, we de...