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Department of Adult Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


Our research group therefore conducts clinical and basic research that aims to elucidate the biological underpinnings of addictive disorders as well as the psychological, social and contextual factors that contribute to their development, maintenance and recovery.

To this end we are aiming at bringing our cross-disciplinary perspectives together to a number of research topics in the field of addictive disorders and consequently use a multitude of methodological approaches and measurement techniques.

These include e.g. human neurobiology (neuroimaging, neuropsychophysiology, etc.), statistical modeling of epidemiological data, development of novel therapeutic interventions, health care evaluations, and qualitative interviews and surveys.

Research Themes

  • Identification of neurobiological changes associated with addiction on a functional, metabolic and structural level using multimodal neuroimaging
  • Impact of pharmacological interventions on brain function, metabolism and behavior in addiction
  • Neurofeedback-guided training of self-regulation of brain activity in substance use disorders
  • Epidemiology of drug use
  • Epidemiology of behavioural addictions
  • Evaluation of opioid agonist therapy (Canton of Zurich and internationally)

Current Studies

2ASC Study

Does serotonin system stimulation increase pro-social behavior? A comparative pharmacological neuroscientific study in healthy humans.

In this study, we are investigating the long-lasting effect of stimulating the serotonin system with psychedelic substances on social behaviour in healthy people. The psychedelic substances MDMA and psilocybin will be compared with the non-psychedelic substance methylphenidate. A total of 120 healthy participants will be investigated in the study which includes three appointments. The participants will be randomly assigned to one of the three substance groups, which they will take once on the second day of the study. Before and after administering the substance, social behavior will be assessed by various tests and questionnaires during two additional appointments to determine potential long-lasting changes in pro-social behavior caused by the substance.

Further information can be found on the following website:

Co-Boost Study

Boosting and guiding neuroplasticity by combining ketamine with neurofeedback-assisted learning - towards individualized and integrated pharmacopsychotherapeutic treatment for cocaine addiction.

The Co-Boost study combines two novel treatment approaches for the treatment of cocaine use disorder: A single dose of ketamine to stimulate neuroplasticity, paired with a repeated neurofeedback training to foster reward experience that is not associated with cocaine use. This study is based on new evidence showing therapeutic effect of ketamine on cocaine use disorder, along with promising findings from neurofeedback training studies where individuals with frequent cocaine use successfully learned to regulate activity in the brain’s rewards centre using reward imagery.

The aim of this study is to investigate whether ketamine and neurofeedback training help those affected to reduce their cocaine cravings and their cocaine use.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

Züri Can Study

Züri Can – a pilot project to foster low-risk cannabis use within the novel Swiss regulatory framework.

The aim of the study "Züri Can" is to foster lower-risk cannabis use by implementing three different models of regulated cannabis sales, namely ten social clubs with consumption rooms, ten pharmacies and the Zurich drug information centre, all of which can admit between 50 and 150 participants. The study involves 2100 adults with long-term cannabis use who are residents of the city of Zurich and have no physical or psychiatric contraindications to cannabis use. The outcome on cannabis use behaviour, the health of cannabis users, and their environment is investigated by means of biannual online surveys. The primary outcomes of the Züri Can study are the knowledge and behaviour of study participants regarding lower-risk cannabis use.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

Website of the University of Zurich: Current Status und first Results

Website of the City of Zurich: Study Design und Study Participation