Psychological effects of ketamine in healthy volunteers: Phenomenological study
The psychosis-inducing effect of ketamine is important evidence supporting the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia. However, the symptoms the drug produces have not been described systematically. To examine the effects of ketamine in healthy people using a structured psychiatric interview. Ketamine (200 ng/ml) or placebo was administered by continuous infusion to 15 healthy volunteers. Symptoms were rated using the Present State Examination, the Thought, Language and Communication Scale and the Scale for Assessment of Negative Symptoms. Ketamine induced a range of perceptual distortions, but not hallucinations. Referential ideas were seen in nearly half the sample. There were only mild and infrequent ratings on the thought disorder scale. Affective flattening and alogia were seen in some volunteers. Ketamine does not reproduce the full picture of schizophrenia. The main point of similarity concerns referential thinking. Phenomena resembling negative symptoms are also seen, but the distinction of these from the drug's sedative effects requires further elucidation.