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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023

2023 Dec 19

Commun Biol




Psychedelic concentrations of nitrous oxide reduce functional differentiation in frontoparietal and somatomotor cortical networks.


Dai R, Huang Z, Larkin TE, Tarnal V, Picton P, Vlisides PE, Janke E, McKinney A, Hudetz AG, Harris RE, Mashour GA


Despite the longstanding use of nitrous oxide and descriptions of its psychological effects more than a century ago, there is a paucity of neurobiological investigation of associated psychedelic experiences. We measure the brain’s functional geometry (through analysis of cortical gradients) and temporal dynamics (through analysis of co-activation patterns) using human resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data acquired before and during administration of 35% nitrous oxide. Both analyses demonstrate that nitrous oxide reduces functional differentiation in frontoparietal and somatomotor networks. Importantly, the subjective psychedelic experience induced by nitrous oxide is inversely correlated with the degree of functional differentiation. Thus, like classical psychedelics acting on serotonin receptors, nitrous oxide flattens the functional geometry of the cortex and disrupts temporal dynamics in association with psychoactive effects.