Human behavioral pharmacology of psychedelics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The past decade has witnessed a rapid growth of research on the basic science and clinical understanding of psychedelics. This chapter provides an overview of the human behavioral pharmacology of psychedelics focusing on three prototypic classic psychedelics—psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). A brief historical overview of the classic psychedelics and naming and drug classification is first specified. Next, special considerations in the conduct of human behavioral pharmacology work with psychedelics is described including the role of set and setting, mystical experience measurement, the use of effective blinding and placebos, and the abuse liability of psychedelics. Following, a description of the subjective, physiological, and clinical effects of psilocybin, LSD, and DMT is provided. This body of work clearly documents a unique and complex collection of subjective effects following psychedelic use, both during acute drug administration and as related to long-term behavior change following use. Clinical research demonstrates potential therapeutic utility with early phase clinical trials showing positive and enduring effects in many difficult-to-treat conditions including treatment-resistant depression, alcohol use disorder, and cigarette smoking. Future work in this newly reemerged field is needed to reveal mechanisms of behavior change in psychedelic drug action. Behavioral pharmacology is ultimately well served to provide this direction answering questions at the intersection of environment and pharmacology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBehavioral Pharmacology of Drug Abuse
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Status
EditorsJun-Xu Li
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780323915267
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)1054-3589
ISSN (Electronic)1557-8925


  • DMT
  • Hallucinogen
  • LSD
  • Mystical experience
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychedelic
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Human behavioral pharmacology of psychedelics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this