Frederick Streeter Barrett

The neuroscience of psychedelic drugs, music and nostalgia

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About Frederick Streeter Barrett

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Professor, Frederick Streeter Barrett, is a core faculty member of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. His work explores the neural basis of emotional functioning and altered states of consciousness at the intersection of music, pharmacological interventions, behavioral measures, computerized testing, and brain imaging techniques. Frederick’s latest research sheds light on the acute and long-term effects of psychedelic experiences on emotions, cognition, and the brain. He has shown that psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and LSD, when they are active in the body, disrupt brain networks that support cognitive control. This may occur by short-circuiting a key brain region called the claustrum, which is the potential seat of consciousness in the brain. At the same time, psychedelic drugs facilitate activity in brain regions that support emotions, memories, and meaning making, especially brain regions that are recruited by music. The long-term effects of this experience include a reduction in negative emotions and an enduring increase in positive emotions, which may, in part, explain the therapeutic value of psychedelics when treating mood and substance use disorders.

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About This Talk

Research has demonstrated a strong connection between music and memory. In fact, Psychedelic Neuroscientist Frederick Streeter Barrett studied the deep connection between music and nostalgia, explaining that music has the ability to evoke meaningful experiences and memories and connect us to our sense of self. He moved a step further to study how music could evoke responses during a psychedelic experience. In doing so, he learned that there are both acute and long-term effects of psychedelic experiences on the brain, cognition, and emotions. With controlled psychedelic substances, there is a potential to alter the entire brain for a period of time and thus provide relief from negative emotions that cloud the mind. Capturing this controlled relief, Frederick's research suggests that, under the right conditions, psychedelics may have the potential to treat a wide range of mood and substance disorders.

Frederick believes that music and psychedelics have the potential to open our minds and connect us with our most authentic selves. Watch his TEDMED 2020 Talk "The neuroscience of psychedelic drugs, music and nostalgia," now on

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