The research promises to be the first exploration of naturalistic psilocybin microdosing in a lab-setting using a cutting-edge neuroimaging technique and a unique kind of trial protocol.
The idea underpinning the phenomenon of psychedelic microdosing is that tiny doses of psychoactive drugs, such as psilocybin or LSD, can deliver subtle enhancements to productivity, creativity, mental well-being and energy. The key to microdosing is that doses must be so small that the user feels no acute hallucinogenic effects. Basically, if you feel something acute after taking a dose you have had too much.
While the practice is not particularly new, it has risen in popularity dramatically over the past decade, inspired by highly active internet communities and large volumes of positive anecdotal reports. Despite the flurry of popular reporting there is still a dearth of robust empirical data on the true efficacy of microdosing. Only in the last few years have scientists been able to begin exploring the subject through clinical trials, so the jury is still out over whether this practice is an effective phenomenon or simply a glorified placebo effect.
Vince Polito, from Macquarie University, has been researching naturalistic microdosing behaviors for several years. In 2019 he published a compelling, and unique, longitudinal study that tracked the experiences of nearly 100 microdosing subjects over six weeks. His latest project, sponsored by life sciences company Mydecine Innovations Group, is another novel investigation of "real-world" microdosers.
"Our focus of the study is exploring whether microdosing leads to changes in novelty perception or pattern recognition," says Polito. "In exploring the experiences of genuine microdosers from multiple angles, looking at behavioral, neuroimaging and biomarker data, we want to discover what actually happens when people microdose 'in the wild' and whether we can find objective indicators of some of the benefits that microdosers claim."