Recent research has uncovered significant insights into how psilocybin impacts the auditory cortex in mouse models. Psilocybin, a natural psychedelic compound found in over 200 species of fungi, is renowned for inducing altered states of consciousness, including shifts in cognition, mood, and perception.

Various studies have explored psilocybin’s potential in treating mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. While its therapeutic promise is apparent, the precise mechanisms by which this psychedelic modifies perception and brain function remain elusive.

Prior investigations have demonstrated that psilocybin alters brain activity patterns and enhances neural activity across various brain regions. However, its specific effects on the auditory cortex, which processes auditory information like speech sounds and musical signals, have not been thoroughly understood.

In this study, researchers aimed to elucidate how psilocybin influences the balance between stimulus-driven responses in the auditory cortex and intrinsic neural activity. This, they posited, could enhance our understanding of the broader impacts of psilocybin on perception and its therapeutic potential.

Using two-photon imaging, the researchers examined the primary auditory cortex in mice. This advanced technique enabled real-time detection of neuronal activity changes. The mice were exposed to auditory stimuli at varying frequencies, and the neural responses were monitored. Additionally, the researchers employed a custom-made video tracking arena to observe psilocybin’s behavioral effects, placing the mice in a well-lit acrylic box and recording their movements at high frame rates.

Analyzing the video footage, the scientists compared the mice’s behavior before and after administering psilocybin. They discovered that neurons in the auditory cortex exhibited increased responsiveness to sound stimuli post-administration. This heightened responsiveness was followed by a notable decrease approximately 30 minutes later, indicating a biphasic effect of psilocybin on neural activity.

Despite the alterations in neural responsiveness, the frequency at which neurons responded to different sound frequencies remained stable. This suggests that the neurons’ capacity to differentiate between tones was unaffected, even as their activity levels fluctuated. Furthermore, the research revealed that psilocybin enhanced functional connectivity within the auditory cortex, demonstrated by higher correlations in neural activity patterns between neuron pairs, suggesting improved communication within the neural network.

Authored by Nikolas A. Francis and Adam T. Brockett, the study was published in the “Journal of Neurophysiology.”

As numerous entities, including Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS), continue their R&D programs involving psilocybin and other hallucinogens, the enigmatic therapeutic potential of these substances is likely to be unveiled progressively.


What is psilocybin? Psilocybin is a natural psychedelic compound found in more than 200 species of fungi. It is known to induce altered states of consciousness, affecting cognition, mood, and perception.

How does psilocybin affect the brain? Psilocybin alters activity patterns in the brain, increasing neural activity in various regions. It specifically influences the auditory cortex by modifying neural responsiveness to sound stimuli and enhancing functional connectivity.

What therapeutic potential does psilocybin have? Studies have shown that psilocybin can be effective in treating mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Its exact mechanisms are still being researched, but its therapeutic promise is evident.

What is the biphasic effect of psilocybin observed in the study? The biphasic effect refers to the initial increase in neural responsiveness to sound stimuli following psilocybin administration, followed by a significant decrease approximately 30 minutes later.

How was the study on psilocybin’s effects on the auditory cortex conducted? Researchers used two-photon imaging to observe neuronal activity in the primary auditory cortex of mice in real time. They also exposed the mice to various auditory stimuli and tracked their movements in a custom-made video tracking arena.

What did the study reveal about psilocybin’s impact on neural connectivity? The study found that psilocybin enhanced functional connectivity in the auditory cortex, indicated by higher correlations in neural activity patterns between neuron pairs. This suggests improved communication within the neural network.