Gul Dolen: Social Cognition, MDMA, Oxytocin, Metaplasticity, Critical Periods, Autism & Octopuses

Nick talks to Dr. Gul Dolen, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Her lab studies the circuit and synaptic mechanisms of social cognition in health and disease. Nick and Dr. Dolen discussed her research on critical periods for…

Gul Dolen: Social Cognition, MDMA, Oxytocin, Metaplasticity, Critical Periods, Autism & Octopuses

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Nick talks to Dr. Gul Dolen, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Her lab studies the circuit and synaptic mechanisms of social cognition in health and disease.

Nick and Dr. Dolen discussed her research on critical periods for social reward learning in rodents, the role of oxytocin in social behavior and learning, and how MDMA (“ecstasy”) promotes prosocial behavior in animals as diverse as humans, rodents, and octopuses. They also talked about how drugs like MDMA and psychedelics influence “metaplasticity,” enabling environmental factors to trigger plasticity (physical changes in the brain) in a context-specific manner. Dr. Dolen also described how her research relates to developing treatments for autism, as well as her thoughts on whether the subjective effects of psychedelics and other drugs are necessary for some of their therapeutic effects.

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0:00:00 Episode Intro
0:06:09 Gul Dolen Intro & Neuroscience of Social Behavior
0:16:28 Development of Social Behavior
0:23:55 Critical Periods of Social Learning
0:32:20 Oxytocin & Social Learning
0:52:43 Critical Periods in Humans
1:03:28 MDMA Research in Rodents
1:13:48 MDMA Research in Octopuses
1:30:08 Clinical Research With MDMA
1:33:22 MDMA, Psychedelics & Metaplasticity

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