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Research in Clam Hearts Suggests Clue to Reasons for Schizophrenia


Research on the beating of clam hearts may provide a clue to the cause of schizophrenia, according to John H. Welsh, Director of the Biological Laboratories, which is trying to discover the effects of different chemicals on the heartbeats of quahog clams.

His findings on how two chemicals, serotinin and LSD, affect the beating of the clam heart, appear to have a direct relationship to psychosis in humans.

Investigators have known since 1947 that a single injection of LSD in human volunteers causes a transient psychosis similar to schizophrenia, but so far they have been unable to discover how LSD affects the human brain.

Welsh has found that both LSD and serotinin, which is also found in the human brain, stimulate the clam heart to beat with larger and faster beats.

Welsh has also found evidence that serotinin is secreted by nerves running to the clam heart. If this proves true, it means that serotinin is the normal exciting agent for the clam heart, and that LSD is able to make the clam heart beat faster than it would under normal stimulation.

He said that the next question to be solved about the "LSD psychosis" in man is whether this temporary insanity results because LSD blocks the normal action of serotinin or because LSD has an even greater serotinin-like effect on the human brain.

In an attempt to answer this question. Welsh is studying the action of a bromine derative of LSD on the clam heart.

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