Psilocybin affects genes associated with synaptic plasticity, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Biologists analyzed the work of 46 genes in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of rats after taking different doses of psilocybin. It turned out that psilocybin enhances the work of genes associated with the formation of interneuronal connections - and more in the prefrontal cortex than in the hippocampus.
The effect of psilocybin (a component of hallucinogenic mushrooms) on the brain is being actively studied in connection with the treatment of affective disorders: for example, the effectiveness of this substance in the fight against depression has recently been again shown. Psilocybin is also used to treat depression associated with cancer and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The short-term effect of psilocybin is due to its effect on serotonin 5-HT2A receptors: a molecule similar to serotonin and able to activate its receptors, causing hallucinations and other effects. However, psilocybin treatment is based on a long-term effect on the brain, which implies an effect on synaptic plasticity - a change in the strength of neuronal connections. Such an effect has already been shown for psilocybin, but its mechanisms have so far been little explored.