Research Poster

Research poster 2023

Maruša Sirk
Assistant at Center for Cognitive Science, University of Ljubljana. 

The research wanted to tackle the question of mystical-type psychedelic experiences and their possible impact on everyday life experiences. Previous research showed that mystical-type psychedelic experiences are able to induce significant changes in behaviour and well-being, but rarely any study focused on the phenomenological aspect of such changes. The research aimed to address the gap in the literature by using a combination of descriptive experience sampling and micro-phenomenology interviews, while focusing on the changes in everyday experience and not the psychedelic experience itself. This research was conducted as part of a master's thesis under the mentorship of prof. dr. Urban Kordeš. 

Clayton Coleman
MSc at King's College London

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a classical psychedelic that triggers alterations in emotional and psychological functioning, facilitated by changes in neurochemical signaling, which can be visualized using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). This research employed a seed-based approach, selecting a region within the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC) and investigating changes in functional connectivity to this region under the effects of LSD. Analyses of these connectivity changes, in conjunction with collected covariates, revealed correlations between ego dissolution and the combined functional connectivity of the left and right DLPFC, Thalamus, and Fusiform Gyrus. A separate analysis, focusing on emotional arousal and the right DLPFC, showed statistically significant connectivity changes with the Intraparietal Sulcus. This innovative seed-based methodology offers fresh perspectives on psychedelic research, elucidating the critical role of the DLPFC in psychedelic experiences and expanding our knowledge of how psychedelics modulate brain function. These insights contribute to our understanding of the potential therapeutic applications of psychedelics for psychological disorders.

Johanna Blanc
Psychologist, MSc, University of Lausanne

How do individuals share about their experiences with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in the context of treatment-resistant disorders in a legalized setting in Switzerland?

There is a growing interest for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) within both research and clinical application, and Switzerland plays an important role in advancing this field. This research is an exploratory qualitative study designed to shed light on the narratives of five individuals who have received legal PAP treatment in Switzerland, involving substances such as MDMA, psilocybin, or LSD as part of their therapy. The objective of this study is to uncover the key themes present in their accounts and to understand the changes brought about by their experiences with PAP.

The interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis, which identified six main themes: the individuals' personal history prior to PAP, the course of their psychedelic experiences, the activation of therapeutic processes, the outcomes of PAP, the non- pharmacological factors that contributed to their experiences and integration, and their general reflections on PAP. In addition, by employing a narrative-inspired approach, we identified a progressive and transformative pattern in how the participants shared about their experiences with PAP. They made sense of the significance of their psychedelic experiences and the resulting changes in their lives by narrating them and by relating them with their own life story and suffering.

Paul Deshusses
PhD candidate in International History & Politics and a teaching assistant at the Geneva Graduate Institute 

My research aims at providing a critical history of animal communication studies in the 1960s, thus casting light on the way these ambitious multi/interdisciplinary fields emerged in the 1960s. In 1963, Thomas Sebeok sought to launch a field that he named ‘zoosemiotics’, which would later become a subbranch of biosemiotics. Spatially, current biosemiotics studies are concentrated and flourished particularly in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland and Denmark and, to a lesser extent Russia.  Historically, the movement also had strong sympathizers in the US and Switzerland. For this conference, I investigated the use and impact of psychoactive and psychotropic drugs in animal studies during the 1960s. At the core of those debates were the notion of internal architectural aesthetics, the notion of instinct, and the philosophy of biology at large.  It can be noted that from the 1940s to 1960s, the animal kingdom was endowed with three more ‘senses’: echolocation/sonar for bats and whales, electric ‘touch’ for knifefishes and the ability to detect magnetism for various species. Some scientists relied on psychedelic psychotropic or psychoactive substances to decipher animals' communication. My research is based on archival findings and will argue that psychedelics played an overlooked role in animal communication research in the 1960s, which was the heyday of ethology.

Mark Melnykowycz
PhD (Dr. sc. ETH Zurich), IDUN Technologies AG

We are presenting the characterization of psilocybin treatment state using scalp and in-ear EEG brain-computer interfaces.  In the current investigation we paired in-ear and scalp EEG to capture brain activity before and after taking psilocybin and showed psilocybin-induced alpha desynchronization of study participants.  In-ear EEG represent a way to easily scale brain activity tracking outside of clinical environments, and developing neuromarkers for treatment state builds the foundation for measuring treatment response and personalization of treatments. 

Felix Scholkmann

PD Dr. sc. nat.

Neurophotonics and Biosignal Processing Research Group, Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory, Department of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

In this single-blind, placebo-controlled study with a non-randomized design, we use time-domain functional near-infrared spectroscopy (TD-fNIRS) to measure changes in cerebrovascular hemodynamics and oxygenation (as a marker of brain activity) after intramuscular subanesthetic ketamine (0.75 mg/kg) and placebo (saline) administration in healthy participants (n = 15, 8 females, 7 males, age 32.4 ± 7.5 years). Results: (i) Ketamine induces altered states of consciousness; (ii) Ketamine affects the cardiovascular system as well as absolute cerebrovascular hemoglobin oxygenation and concentration; (iii) Ketamine reduces the whole brain fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations; (iv) Ketamine acutely reduces global brain connectivity of the prefrontal cortex; (v) a combination of neural and systemic physiological metrics facilitates the prediction of subjective mystical experiences.

Publication: Castillo et al., 2023, Scientific Reports, 13, 11665 (

Daria Dikovskaya

MSc at Imperial College London

As psychedelic-assisted therapies (PAT) transition from the controlled environments of clinical research into real-world practice, the challenges of treatment accessibility and the need for appropriate infrastructure become more pronounced. Digital technologies might be pivotal in addressing these challenges due to their unprecedented reach and ability to enhance the accessibility and scalability of mental health interventions. However, their potential in PAT remains largely underexplored.

 To address this research gap, the present study utilises a Human-Centred Design approach to identify the most promising avenues for patient-centred innovation at the intersection of these two fields. Engaging 31 psychedelic practitioners and researchers through a two-round Delphi exercise, this study unveiled prevailing perspectives on a technology-facilitated future of PAT.

Key concerns that emerged include issues of data privacy, concerns over patient safety, and the risk of obstructing therapeutic change—especially in the areas of embodiment and social connection. Notably, expert consensus pinpointed community building and maintenance during the integration phase of PAT as the most promising application for digital tools in this domain. Additionally, the need to support users' basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness) and to incorporate PAT-specific patient care principles into the user experience emerged as primary design considerations.

These findings pave the way for the future development of digital solutions to support patients undergoing PAT, as well as the evaluation of existing ones. Furthermore, they align with the growing emphasis on community-centric infrastructure to ensure the successful implementation of this novel treatment.