In this interview, we discuss how beyond the tremendous therapeutic opportunities offered by psychedelics, they also provide a unique opportunity to investigate social cognition in a causal way and thus increase our mechanistic understanding of it. We argue this basic research is necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms and assure their clinical efficacy. However, revealing this potential requires a great deal of education for clinicians and researchers. This includes scientific rigor both in terms of how administration of psychedelic substances is completed and how psychedelic-assisted therapy is conducted. We also argue that important synergies of recent tools (VR, hyperscanning) in lab experiments can bring more naturalistic settings and thus increase relevance for real-world applications. We finally review recent results demonstrating how altered state of consciousness induced by psychedelics can result from thalamic gating deficits and alterations in information processing of internal and external stimuli within cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) feedback loops. We finish the exchange on the most important challenges for future research, including funding, sample size, and ethics.
Keywords:neuropharmacology, psychedelic-assisted therapy, psychiatry, social cognition