Gul Dolen MD, PhD on how psychedelics could be the master key that unlocks critical learning periods allowing real change to happen.

by Pavel Gorin

Aug 14, 2023

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In this episode of the Psychedelic Therapy Frontiers podcast Dr. Steve Thayer and Dr. Reid Robison are joined by Dr. Gül Dölen MD, PhD. Gül is an associate professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a pioneer and world leader of psychedelics research. She earned her MD, PhD at Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she carried out seminal work on critical periods, learning and memory, and the pathogenesis of autism. You can learn about her current work at

In today’s interview, Gul teaches us about critical learning periods and social reward learning. She clarifies what it really means when we say psychedelics cause “neuroplasticity” and explains the difference between metaplasticity and hyperplasticity. We talk about the possibility that psychedelics are the “master key” that unlocks various kinds of critical periods and what that means for treating psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and even motor dysfunction like that found in stroke patients. She provides a neuromechanistic explanation for the phenomenology of a psychedelic trip and makes a case for the critical importance of psychotherapy in combination with psychedelic use for people who are seeking healing or behavior change.

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