David Nutt: The Science of Psychedelics

The Science of Psychedelics

David Nutt

What impact do psychedelic drugs have on the brain? What does research show about their potential for use? Psychiatrist David Nutt examines the evidence behind some common misconceptions.

  • David Nutt 1
    David Nutt

    Fierce defender of science-based policy


About the Course

Why is the establishment so scared of psychedelic drugs? Why have Nobel Prize winners and visionaries throughout the ages called LSD the secret of their success? In this course, psychiatrist David Nutt surveys the history of psychedelics and examines the evidence.

From ancient Greece to military experiments, psychedelic drugs are woven into the very fabric of human history. But after fifty years of outrage and scaremongering, governments and the medical establishment refuse to consider them as medical treatments.

In this two-part course, David Nutt cuts through the misinformation surrounding psychedelics and lays down the hard evidence. From alcoholism to depression, he argues that psychedelics could cure all kinds of ailments, helping people to live longer and happier lives.

By the end of this course, you will have learned:

  • How psychedelics have played a key role in almost all human cultures
  • How they allow us to transcend the natural limits our brain places on our perception
  • Why governments banned psychedelics in the 1960s despite having no evidence they were dangerous
  • How the US Military tried to harness their power to brainwash enemy spies
  • Why research into the power of psychedelics is so difficult to conduct
  • How LSD-analogues can cure depression by switching off parts of the brain


As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic, discussion boards to have your say and an end-of-course assessment set by Professor Nutt.


IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • David Nutt

    David Nutt is director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College, London and the author of Psychedelics.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Drugs and the Brain
    David Nutt presents his latest research on how our brains respond to psychedelics.
  • Part Two: A New Approach to Treatment
    Can we achieve an evidence-based drug policy? What are the risks that must be considered?

Suggested Further Readings

Nutt, David J. Drugs - Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs. Cambridge: UIT Press. 2012.

Nutt, David J. Illegal Drugs Laws: Clearing a 50-Year-Old Obstacle to Research, in PLoS Biology 13(1). 2015.

Carhart-Harris, Robin L.; Kaelen, Mendel; Nutt David J. 'How do hallucinogens work on the brain?'. The Psychologist vol.27. 2014.

Carhart-Harris, Robin L.; Nutt, David J.;et al. 'Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging'. PNAS, 113 (17). 2016.