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Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecycle

The Impacts of LSD on Brain Function 

How do low doses of LSD impact reward processing in the brain? Existing knowledge has found that psychedelics may be beneficial in treating depression by affecting emotions about events and their outcomes. Since previous studies use high doses, IPR psychologist Robin Nusslock and colleagues explore what effects low doses of LSD have on brain processes in Neuropsychopharmacology. The treatments were a low dose of LSD (26 micrograms, or LSD-26), an even lower dose (13 micrograms, or LSD-13), and a placebo as a control. Eighteen healthy young adults went through three five-hour sessions, receiving one of the two LSD doses or a placebo each session. Two to three hours after taking the drug, an EEG was performed to measure reactions to positive and negative feedback that participants received while being tested on how quickly they tapped a button on a screen. Results indicated that the LSD-13 doses had the biggest effect on ongoing positive reactions and that LSD-13 and LSD-26 had greater positive effects on mood than the placebo. The findings suggest microdoses of LSD increase neural reactions to positive feedback, increasing motivation through reinforcing actions. If these findings can be extended to repeated doses, microdosing could be used to alleviate symptoms of depression in some patients.  

The Effects of Food Insecurity, Water Insecurity, and HIV on Depression Among Kenyan Women 

Depression is a major cause of disability around the globe, and it can impact women of childbearing age more than men because of the physical and mental toll of pregnancy and motherhood. In Social Science & Medicine, IPR anthropologist Sera Young and her co-authors assess how food insecurity, water insecurity, and depression relate to each other among Kenyan women with and without HIV. The researchers examined an observational longitudinal study of 183 Kenyan women conducted between September 2014 and June 2015. All the participants were pregnant, and slightly more than half of the women were HIV positive. Young and her co-authors analyze interviews with the women at 15, 18, and 21 months postpartum where they were questioned about their access to food and water, along with their mental health. The researchers find that water insecurity is predictive of food security, but not the other way around. They also discover that water insecurity, food insecurity, and HIV infection can lead to maternal depression and these stressors can exacerbate the effects of each other. Young and her co-authors argue that because water insecurity is predictive of future food insecurity, resources to combat water insecurity should be targeted to communities that are the most vulnerable. They also conclude that attention to water insecurity, food insecurity, and HIV infection is necessary to reduce maternal depression.