Serotonergic psychedelics and personality: A systematic review of contemporary research

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HighlightsSerotonergic psychedelics act as agonists at cortical 5-HT2A receptors.5-HT2A receptors are expressed in fronto-temporo-parieto-occipital areas.Some personality traits seem to be related to 5-HT2A receptor expression.Acute and long-term use of psychedelics is associated with personality changes.Personality changes induced by psychedelics may have therapeutic effects.Serotonergic psychedelics act as agonists at cortical 5-HT2A receptors and seem to induce personality changes. We conducted a systematic review of studies assessing the effects of these drugs on personality. Papers published from 1985–2016 were included from PubMed, LILACS, and SciELO databases. Three hundred and sixty-nine studies were identified, and 18 were included. Specific personality traits, such as Absorption and Self-Transcendence, seem to influence the effects of psychedelics, and psychedelic drug users and nonusers appear to differ in some personality traits. Psychedelics administered in controlled settings may induce personality changes, such as increased Openness and Self-Transcendence. Increases in global brain entropy induced by acute psychedelic administration predicted changes in Openness, and Self-Transcendence was negatively correlated with cortical thinning of the posterior cingulate cortex in long-term religious ayahuasca users. Acute and long-term use of psychedelics is associated with personality changes that appear to be modulated by 5-HT2A receptors. These changes seem to induce therapeutic effects that should be further explored in randomized controlled studies.

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