Randomized scientific trials, which contain giving some individuals a drug, others a placebo, and evaluating the consequences of each, are thought of the gold normal in such research.
However such trials are sluggish and costly, and have a tendency to contain solely a small variety of individuals. “[It takes] a number of years, prices a seven-digit sum of money, [and] the ethics approvals take perpetually,” says Bzdok.
As an alternative, his group used pure language processing to evaluate 6,850 written accounts of hallucinogenic drug use. Every account was written by an individual who took one in every of 27 medicine—together with ketamine, MDMA, LSD and psilocin—in a real-world setting slightly than as a part of a lab-based experiment. The accounts had been accessed from the web site of Erowid, a member-supported drug data group.
Bzdok’s group then built-in this knowledge with data of which receptors within the mind every drug is understood to work together with. Collectively, these steps enable the group to establish which neurotransmitter receptors are linked to phrases related to particular drug experiences.
For instance, phrases linked to mystical experiences, comparable to “area,” “universe,” “consciousness,” “dimension,” and “breakthrough” had been related to medicine that bind to particular dopamine, serotonin, and opioid receptors.
Bzdok says the method might present new beginning factors for drug growth. In principle, medicine which are designed to focus on these receptors ought to elicit particular elements of psychedelic drug experiences, says Bzdok, whose work was revealed at this time within the journal Science Advances.
Frederick Barrett, a psychedelics neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore, isn’t wholly satisfied. “People don’t at all times know [what drug they’re taking],” he says. “Doses should not at all times effectively calibrated in the actual world, and there’s much more variation that goes into real-world experiences than it could be potential to even totally acknowledge.”