By Bruce Goldman
There’s been newfound attention to, and a new respect for, so-called psychedelic drugs — chemicals that alter our senses, emotions, thought processes and/or behavior. Robert Malenka, MD, PhD, the Nancy Friend Pritzker Professor in Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, has conducted seminal work regarding how individual nerve cells, or neurons, react to different experiences; how those neurons interact in the brain’s all-important reward circuitry; and how those interactions influence social motivation, depression and addiction.
In recent years, Malenka has been probing psychedelic drugs’ therapeutic potential for a range of psychiatric disorders. Malenka — whom the Society for Neuroscience and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies recently awarded the Peter Seeburg Integrated Neuroscience Prize — explained how one link in this chain led to another.