PT403 – Understanding the Brain: Psychedelic Neuroscience Demystified

April 4, 2023
Featuring: Melanie Pincus, Ph.D. & Manesh Girn

In this episode, David interviews neuroscientist, artist, and educator, Melanie Pincus, Ph.D.; and Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience, lead or co-author on over a dozen scientific publications, and regular contributor to PT, Manesh Girn. 

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In this episode, David interviews neuroscientist, artist, and educator, Melanie Pincus, Ph.D.; and Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience, lead or co-author on over a dozen scientific publications, and regular contributor to PT, Manesh Girn. 

They tell their stories of how they became interested in neuroscience, and stress the importance of staying radically open-minded (or “epistemically naive”) when it comes to how much we can claim we understand about the brain, the mind-body connection, and consciousness itself – that while fMRI and other advances have brought us a long way, there are still a ton of “unknown unknowns,” especially around creativity, decision making, and imagination. They discuss the misconception that we only use 10% of our brains; comparisons between the brain and the universe; society’s misunderstanding of “happy hormones” (dopamine, serotonin, etc.); how chronic stress takes a toll on all parts of the body; how MDMA works with memory processing; and how stacking modalities with the psychedelic experience (like play or activities focused on emotion regulation) can really help with personal goals and growth. 

They have taken their understanding and fascination with neuroscience and applied it to a new course in our Psychedelic Education Center: “Psychedelic Neuroscience Demystified: How Psychedelics Alter Consciousness and Produce Therapeutic Effects“: an 8-week live course with 10 hours of prerecorded material and a built-in community. It was designed with practitioners and clinicians in mind, but with the goal of still being as accessible as possible for anyone who is curious about the neuroscience of psychedelics, and how that knowledge can help with preparation, the journey, integration, and working with a heightened window of neuroplasticity. 

Class begins on May 17, and if you sign up before April 12, you can get $100 off!

Notable Quotes

“There’s so much good science now, and good neuroscience that can inform how people work with their clients in terms of helping them set up for and make sense of their psychedelic experience and ways to optimize the preparation before going into a psychedelic journey, the actual psychedelic journey in terms of thinking about dosing and type of substance to work with, and then also in the integration period, where there’s this heightened window of neuroplasticity and how one could really work with a client to best take advantage of that window of opportunity to lead to lasting change.” -Melanie

“It’s just this blob, this squishy blob of matter. And you think: for that person, their entire life, experiences, memories, [and] hopes were all happening in this little blob that’s in my hand. And just seeing all the layers of blood vessels and how everything’s connected to each other, it’s just fascinating and it’s downright bizarre that somehow, this thing can give rise to experience and consciousness. It’s like, how the hell is that even possible?” -Manesh

“For people who are interested in stacking modalities, there’s other modalities that are really potent at promoting neuroplasticity. So if you want to synergize with the window of plasticity during the integration period, you could for sure partake in regular exercise, because that’s one of the most well-known plasticity promoters.” -Melanie

“How do we respond adaptively to times of change? How do we adjust ourselves? How do we create homeostasis in a changing environment, and how do we adapt to new circumstances? And this is also a whole brain/nervous system/body affair as well, on how to regulate your entire organism to deal with change and to be resilient and to be adaptable. It’s not just in the brain. It’s not just in the brain at all.” -Manesh


Psychedelic Neuroscience Demystified: How Psychedelics Alter Consciousness and Produce Therapeutic Effects (Sign up before April 12 for $100 off)

YouTube: The Psychedelic Scientist

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The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine, by Joseph Tafur, MD What Does ‘Allostatic Load’ Mean for Your Health?

Psychedelics Today: PT288 – Annie & Michael Mithoefer – Vital Psychedelic Conversations s1e8 – Manesh Girn: Curiosity as Freedom from Circumstance, the Default Mode Network, and Nature of the Networked Mind

Attending Breaking Convention? Come see us and use code PSYCHTODAYBC10 for 10% off all purchases!
Melanie Pincus-min

In this Episode

Melanie Pincus, Ph.D.

Dr. Melanie Blair Pincus is a neuroscientist, artist, and educator with a passion for crafting experiences that catalyze self-discovery and transformation. Melanie became interested in modalities that spur personal growth and rewire the brain during her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Emory University, where she studied the legacy of early life stress on the developing brain. She is compelled by both play and non-ordinary states of consciousness as powerful tools that promote flexible brain states for healing and flourishing. In her roles as Chief Scientific Officer for two psychedelic startups, she has designed multi-omics psilocybin research programs with botanical mushrooms to explore the potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness for personal growth. Melanie’s new venture, Syncopy Design Lab, is a research and design agency creating experiences that facilitate deeper states of connectedness to self, others, and the natural world.

Socials: Linkedin

Manesh Girn

Manesh Girn

Manesh Girn is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at McGill University and has been lead or co-author on over a dozen scientific publications and book chapters on topics including psychedelics, meditation, mind-wandering, and the default-mode network. His Ph.D. dissertation focuses on the default-mode network and he is also conducting research on the brain mechanisms underlying LSD, psilocybin, and DMT in collaboration with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and others from the Imperial College London Center for Psychedelic Research. In his free time, he also runs a YouTube channel – The Psychedelic Scientist.

Socials: Instagram / Twitter