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Psychedelic Interventions for Neuropsychological Conditions
A Call for Further Study by Brian C. Peacock, M.A., Psy.D. Candidate
The Long-Term Neuropsychological Impacts of Psychedelics
(From Peacock, 2022)
Other references may be found in Peacock (2022)
or may be requested from the author.
Peacock, B. C. (2022). Applications of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy across personalities and psychopathologies: An integrative literature
review with meta-analysis [Doctoral Dissertation, The Wright Institute]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global (In Press).
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was found to be
very effective in treating social anxiety in adults
with ASD (Danforth et al., 2018). At 6-month
follow-up, the treatment effect size was 1.1.
LSD-assisted therapy was used in the 1950s
through 1970s to treat ASD in children.
Reviewing these studies, Rhead (1977)
concluded that these treatments are safe and
could replace other drugs used for managing
behavior in children with ASD.
A major proponent of LSD therapy for ASD was
Lauretta Bender who developed the Bender-
Gestalt test. She saw substantial improvements
in the perceptual organization of autistic
children with daily 100 μg LSD (Bender, 1962).
While caution is warranted in exploring any
psychedelic treatment with children, early
studies demonstrate the safety and potential
efficacy of LSD therapy for children with ASD
(Peacock, 2022, p. 424).
ADHD & Executive Dysfunction
Ritual ayahuasca use appears to improve some
domains of executive functioning (Peacock,
2022). In a finding approaching significance
(p=.057; N=80), ADHD prevalence was lower in
ayahuasca-using adolescents (2.5%) compared
to controls (17.5%) (Da Silveira et al., 2005).
Long-term ketamine treatment for depression
and other conditions can weaken cognitive
functioning and therefore may worsen ADHD
and executive dysfunction (Peacock, 2022,
p. 341).
Acquired Brain Injuries
DMT infusion for 24 hours following
removal of medial cerebral artery
occlusion was found to prevent ischemia-
reperfusion injury in rats, resulting in 45%
reduced lesion volume (Frecska, 2019).
In mice, MDMA treatment before mild
traumatic brain injury (mTBI) resulted in
fewer cognitive deficits due to MDMA
normalizing tyrosine hydroxylase and
dopamine levels (Edut et al., 2010, 2014).
Recent MDMA use is associated with
severe hyponatremia following mTBI
resulting in seizure or deterioration of
consciousness (Rukskul, 2005).
Ketamine does not increase ICP in
patients with TBI and may instead reduce
it (Zeiler et al., 2014). This is contrary to
medical dogma up until the mid-2000s
(Himmelseher & Durieux, 2005).
Ketamine is neuroprotective in stroke,
neurotrauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage,
and status epilepticus (Bell, 2017).
Ketamine prevents excitotoxicity through
NMDA antagonism and reduces
neuroinflammation. Ketamine also
reduces cell death and apoptosis by
upregulating B-cell lymphoma 2
expression (Bell, 2017).
Finally, ketamine exhibits antiplatelet
effects, preventing microthrombosis
following TBI and subarachnoid
hemorrhage (Bell, 2017).
Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Psychedelics may help prevent or ameliorate age-
related cognitive decline for several reasons (Aday et
al., 2020; Peacock, 2022, p. 503):
• Ayahuasca can improve executive functioning
(though it may negatively impact learning).
• LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and MDMA robustly
increase Openness, a trait that tends to decline
with age.
• Psychedelics can enhance creativity, a process
that can decline with age.
• Aday supposes that the neuroplasticity induced
by LSD, DMT, and ketamine could help aging
brains. However, over-plasticity in aging brains
can cause cortical instability that results in rapid
decay of changes (Cisneros-Franco et al., 2018).
Psilocybin microdosing can increase finger tapping
speed (p=.03; d=0.34), which is important given that
decline in finger tapping speed is a sign of early-stage
dementia (Rootman et al., 2022).

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Psychedelic Interventions for Neurological Conditions [NAN 2022 Poster]

  • 1. Psychedelic Interventions for Neuropsychological Conditions A Call for Further Study by Brian C. Peacock, M.A., Psy.D. Candidate The Long-Term Neuropsychological Impacts of Psychedelics (From Peacock, 2022) Other references may be found in Peacock (2022) or may be requested from the author. Peacock, B. C. (2022). Applications of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy across personalities and psychopathologies: An integrative literature review with meta-analysis [Doctoral Dissertation, The Wright Institute]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global (In Press). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was found to be very effective in treating social anxiety in adults with ASD (Danforth et al., 2018). At 6-month follow-up, the treatment effect size was 1.1. LSD-assisted therapy was used in the 1950s through 1970s to treat ASD in children. Reviewing these studies, Rhead (1977) concluded that these treatments are safe and could replace other drugs used for managing behavior in children with ASD. A major proponent of LSD therapy for ASD was Lauretta Bender who developed the Bender- Gestalt test. She saw substantial improvements in the perceptual organization of autistic children with daily 100 μg LSD (Bender, 1962). While caution is warranted in exploring any psychedelic treatment with children, early studies demonstrate the safety and potential efficacy of LSD therapy for children with ASD (Peacock, 2022, p. 424). ADHD & Executive Dysfunction Ritual ayahuasca use appears to improve some domains of executive functioning (Peacock, 2022). In a finding approaching significance (p=.057; N=80), ADHD prevalence was lower in ayahuasca-using adolescents (2.5%) compared to controls (17.5%) (Da Silveira et al., 2005). Long-term ketamine treatment for depression and other conditions can weaken cognitive functioning and therefore may worsen ADHD and executive dysfunction (Peacock, 2022, p. 341). Acquired Brain Injuries DMT infusion for 24 hours following removal of medial cerebral artery occlusion was found to prevent ischemia- reperfusion injury in rats, resulting in 45% reduced lesion volume (Frecska, 2019). In mice, MDMA treatment before mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) resulted in fewer cognitive deficits due to MDMA normalizing tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine levels (Edut et al., 2010, 2014). Recent MDMA use is associated with severe hyponatremia following mTBI resulting in seizure or deterioration of consciousness (Rukskul, 2005). Ketamine does not increase ICP in patients with TBI and may instead reduce it (Zeiler et al., 2014). This is contrary to medical dogma up until the mid-2000s (Himmelseher & Durieux, 2005). Ketamine is neuroprotective in stroke, neurotrauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and status epilepticus (Bell, 2017). Ketamine prevents excitotoxicity through NMDA antagonism and reduces neuroinflammation. Ketamine also reduces cell death and apoptosis by upregulating B-cell lymphoma 2 expression (Bell, 2017). Finally, ketamine exhibits antiplatelet effects, preventing microthrombosis following TBI and subarachnoid hemorrhage (Bell, 2017). Age-Related Cognitive Decline Psychedelics may help prevent or ameliorate age- related cognitive decline for several reasons (Aday et al., 2020; Peacock, 2022, p. 503): • Ayahuasca can improve executive functioning (though it may negatively impact learning). • LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and MDMA robustly increase Openness, a trait that tends to decline with age. • Psychedelics can enhance creativity, a process that can decline with age. • Aday supposes that the neuroplasticity induced by LSD, DMT, and ketamine could help aging brains. However, over-plasticity in aging brains can cause cortical instability that results in rapid decay of changes (Cisneros-Franco et al., 2018). Psilocybin microdosing can increase finger tapping speed (p=.03; d=0.34), which is important given that decline in finger tapping speed is a sign of early-stage dementia (Rootman et al., 2022).