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Berkeley Talks: The future of psychedelic science

Follow Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. See all Berkeley Talks.

headshots of Gül Dölen, Daniela Kaufer, Michael Silver, Noah Whiteman and Imran Khan
Top, from left: Gül Dölen, Michael Silver, Imran Khan; Bottom, from left: Noah Whiteman and Daniela Kaufer.

UC Berkeley

In Berkeley Talks episode 195, UC Berkeley professors discuss how and why psychedelic substances first evolved, the effects they have in the human brain and mind, and the mechanism behind their potential therapeutic role.

“If it’s true that the therapeutic effects are in part because we’re returning to this state of susceptibility, and vulnerability, and ability to learn from our environment similar to childhood,” says psychology Professor Gül Dölen, “then if we just focus on the day of the trip and don’t instead also focus our therapeutic efforts on those weeks after, where the critical period is presumably still open, then we’re missing the opportunity to really integrate those insights that happen during the trip into the rest of the network of memories that are supporting those learned behaviors.

“And then the caution is that we don’t want to be opening up these critical periods and then, for example, returning people to a traumatic environment or exposing them to potentially bad actors … So we want to be very careful about the way that we take care of patients after they’ve been in this open state of the critical period.”

Panelists of this March 27, 2024 event included:

  • Imran Khan (moderator): Executive director of the Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP).
  • Gül Dölen: Renee & U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Bob Parsons Endowed Chair in psychology, psychedelics, and neuroscience; professor in the Department of Psychology.
  • Daniela Kaufer: Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute; associate dean of biological sciences.
  • Noah Whiteman: Professor of integrative biology and of molecular and cell biology; faculty director of the Essig Museum of Entomology.
  • Michael Silver: Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science and in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute; faculty director of BCSP.

Watch a video of the discussion on BCSP’s YouTube page.