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Suresh Muthukumaraswamy – On a trip back from the fringe


In the 1960s, hippies danced to Grateful Dead and took LSD to alter their minds. Today, LSD and other psychedelic drugs could hold the key to reducing our rates of depression, addiction and suicide.

Since the 1950s researchers have known psychedelic drugs could have medical applications, but moral panic and the ‘war on drugs’ stopped this from getting any traction. Now scientists believe psychedelics diminish activity in the default mode network area of our brains. This is where we maintain a sense of self and engage in self-reflection, and equally where addicts or people suffering from depression may ruminate on self-defeating stories of their lives.

This talk describes the recent renaissance of psychedelic drug research and the pathway for psychedelics to be introduced as important new medicines.


Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy is a Neuro-Psycho-Pharmacologist and an expert in brain imaging. He returned to New Zealand in 2015 after taking part in ground-breaking studies of psychedelics in the United Kingdom, including producing the first images of the brain on LSD. His main research interests are in understanding how therapies alter brain activity and in developing methodologies to measure these changes.



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