Psilocybin as a potential treatment for social behavior (SB) disorders
Impaired empathy and social skills lead to severe social consequences and influence the development and treatment of several psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, empathy has been shown to play a crucial role in moral and prosocial behavior. Recently, a revamped interest for psychedelic compounds has invested the medical research community. For instance, psilocybin is a psychedelic compound which has been demonstrated to safely relieve depression in treatment-resistant depressive patients when used in a controlled setting. Intriguingly, a recent clinical study revealed that psilocybin significantly increased emotional empathy compared with placebo. Preliminary results from our laboratory showed that repeated administration of a non-hallucinogenic dose of lysergic acid diethylamide, a psychedelic compound sharing a similar mechanism of action with psilocybin, increases social behavior in mice. Therefore, we hypothesize that psilocybin can produce a similar prosocial effect via a serotonin mechanism and that it can be used to treat behavioral deficits in genetic mutant mice models of autism.