Franz Xaver Vollenweider
Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging
The burgeoning interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for the treatment of psychiatric disorders has revived efforts to unravel their psychological and neural mechanism of action. A core feature of the psychedelic experience is the dissolution of self/ego-boundaries, often described as feelings of oneness with the world, which arises sequentially and concomitant with varying changes in emotions, thought processing, and perception. The dissolution of self-boundaries and alterations in emotion processing has been postulated to be central to their therapeutic activity. Notably, many meditation practices aim temporally to reduce self-boundaries which were found on the long run to diminish self-focus and promote lasting benevolent emotions and prosocial behaviors. In this presentation, I will summarize our current understanding of system-based mechanisms that may underlay the psychedelic drug effects on the sense of self and emotion processing, and their potential role for therapeutic long-term effects of psychedelics.
Dr. Franz X. Vollenweider is currently Co-Director of the Center for Psychiatric Research, Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Unit, and Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, University of Zurich. He is also the Director of the Heffter Research Center Zürich for Consciousness Studies (HRC-ZH), which he founded in 1998 and incorporated in his research group.