Amanda Feilding is the Founder and Executive Director of the Beckley Foundation. She has been called the ‘hidden hand’ behind the Renaissance of Psychedelic Science, and her contribution to the advancement of psychedelic research and global drug policy has been pivotal and widely acknowledged.
Featured on the Guardian’s list of the Bravest Men and Women in the History of Science, Amanda has personally co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed scientific publications on psychoactive substances, many with ground-breaking results. By establishing key Research Programmes at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, she has propelled the field forward over the last 20+ years, conducting landmark studies, such as the world’s first psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression study, the world’s first LSD, MDMA and DMT brain imaging studies, plus the initiation and collaboration with Johns Hopkins on the first study using psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to overcome nicotine addiction.
Since its inception in 1998, the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of exploratory research into psychedelics and cannabis, and evidence-based global drug policies. Through a series of pivotal international seminars at the House of Lords (starting in 2000) with leading figures from around the world in different fields, from science to politics, plus over 60 much-cited books, reports and papers, and numerous meetings with thought-leaders, academics, and policy-makers at the UN and governments around the world, Amanda has ensured that the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of global drug policy reform, particularly in the field of cannabis and the psychedelics.
Through her work with the Beckley Foundation, Amanda is bridging the gap between science and policy, creating a positive feedback loop, with the aim of building and harnessing our knowledge of the benefits of currently prohibited compounds to optimise human health, wellbeing and potential.
LSD and the importance of changes in the cerebral blood supply: from expanded states of consciousness to new therapeutic interventions
Until now, modern neuroscience has been almost exclusively focused on the impact of psychedelics on neuronal mechanisms, largely ignoring the fact that the serotonin system is deeply involved in many other important physiological mechanisms, in particular the regulation of vascular tone, and therefore the distribution of blood and energy resources in both the brain and the body.
In 1966, I met Bart Huges, a Dutch scientist of exceptional insight, who had two fascinating hypotheses about the way psychedelics may induce a radical shift in blood distribution within both body and brain, which may be at the origin of their consciousness altering effects. Since then, I have felt inspired by a ‘mission’ to test the reality of this theory with the best possible research. Finally, modern neuroscientific tools have reached a stage of sophistication that may allow me to address, in depth and from different angles, this potentially revolutionary hypothesis.
In this talk, I will introduce some of the key research projects I have been developing in the past year with leading experts in multiple complementary fields of neuroscience, in order to look, with an unprecedented level of precision and resolution, at the multiple physiological changes that occur in the brain under the effect of psychedelics, in particular LSD. From cutting-edge, high-resolution functional imaging of the mystical experience, to advanced optical imaging of the brain’s microvasculature, this new research programme may revolutionise the way we understand the underlying mechanisms of psychedelics, and potentially pave the way to new therapeutic applications, as well as increasing our potential to harness a wide spectrum of positive human states, such as wellbeing, awareness and creativity.