How ketamine affects three key regions of brain

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 16:03 in Psychology & Sociology

Deployed as an anesthetic in human and veterinary medicine for decades, the synthetic compound ketamine was approved four years ago as a fast-acting antidepressant. But in addition to its anesthetic and antidepressant potency, the drug has “dissociative effects,” including hallucinations, that have led to recreational use. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital recently tracked ketamine’s effects to three brain regions. Two are believed to be responsible for the antidepressant effects: the prefrontal cortex — responsible for planning and other executive functions — and the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory formation. The third, the posteromedial cortex, in the back portion of the brain, is a likely site for the dissociative effects. The Gazette discussed the research with Fangyun Tian, an instructor in anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and MGH and first author of the paper, which was published in Nature Communications. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Q&A Fangyun Tian GAZETTE: Ketamine has...

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