Studies in humans

The examination of altered states of consciousness in healthy volunteers induced by a single application of a hallucinogenic substance has a long history in psychiatric research.

Through the targeted pharmacological manipulation of a neurotransmitter system in the brain it is possible to elicit symptoms that are to some extent similar to those of schizophrenic psychoses. It is then possible to examine the resulting neurobiological changes as well as psychopathological abnormalities, behavioral and cognitive function changes.

We exclusively apply exogenous cannabinoids for the induction of altered states of consciousness. Those exogenous cannabinoids exert their effects mainly on the body's own endocannabinoid system. This allows us to investigate significant effects of this system on the above-mentioned functions.

We try to perform comparable experiments in healthy individuals as we do in our animal experimental approaches. In doing so we strive to ensure comparability of the respective changes, to the extent this is attainable among different species. This translational approach should contribute to a better understanding of the underlying neurobiological processes of endocannabinoidergic functions in psychiatric disorders.

Funding:

This research is supported by the European Commission (GxE Experimental EU FP7 HEALTH-F2-2010-241909).

Publications:

D. Koethe, C. Hoyer, F. M. Leweke: The endocannabinoid system as a target for modelling psychosis. Psychopharmacology (2009) 206: 551-561.

D. Koethe, C. W. Gerth, M. A. Neatby, A. Haensel, C. Mauss, M. Thies, U. Schneider, H. M. Emrich, J. Klosterkötter, F. M. Leweke: Disturbances of visual information processing in early states of psychosis and experimental delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol altered states of consciousness. Schizophr Res (2006) 88(1-3):142-150.

D. Koethe, C. W. Gerth, M. A. Neatby, A. Haensel, C. Mauss, M. Thies, U. Schneider, H. M. Emrich, J. Klosterkötter, F. M. Leweke: Disturbances of visual information processing in early states of psychosis and experimental delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol altered states of consciousness. Schizophr Res (2006) 88(1-3):142-150.

F. M. Leweke, U. Schneider, M. Radwan, E. Schmidt, H. M. Emrich: Different effects of nabilone and cannabidiol on binocular depth inversion in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behav (2000) 66(1):175-181.

F. M. Leweke, U. Schneider, M. Thies, T. F. Münte, H. M. Emrich: Effects of synthetic ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol on binocular depth inversion of natural and artificial objects in man. Psychopharmacology (1999) 142:230-235.

F. M. Leweke, C. Kampmann, M. Radwan, D. E. Dietrich, S. Johannes, H. M. Emrich, T. F. Münte: The effects of tetrahydrocannabinol on the recognition of emotionally charged words: an analysis using event-related brain potentials. Neuropsychobiology (1998) 37:104-111.

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