Senior Research Fellow in the School of Psychological Sciences at Macquarie University.
What is the problem you are trying to address?
Nearly half of all Australians will experience mental illness at some point in their life. Although we have some excellent treatments, these do not work for all individuals and even when they do work, they sometimes lead to debilitating side effects. There is a strong need for new treatment options.
What is your research doing to solve this problem?
There is emerging evidence that psychedelic substances can be effective novel treatment tools for a wide variety of mental illnesses. So far, most of this research has involved psychedelics taken at high doses along with psychotherapy. In my work, I am exploring whether these substances taken regularly, at very low doses (i.e., microdosing) might also improve mood and mental health.
Public outreach or science communication outputs:
- Polito, V. (2021, November). Science at the Edge of Consciousness. This was a public lecture covering local and international research on altered states of consciousness. In 2021, I presented this to talk to audiences in Melbourne and Sydney. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbNy1kZbKlg
- My work on measuring the sense of agency was featured in the museum exhibit ‘Smoke and Mirrors: The Science of Magic’. Wellcome Trust Exhibition. April – September 2019. https://wellcomecollection.org/pages/W_6eSREAAMqYcurY
- Co-founded ‘A Night of Illusions’, an event which ran in Science Week from 2016-2019, showcasing scientists from across NSW demonstrating visual and cognitive illusions.
- Polito, V. (2022, April). Is microdosing just placebo? In D. Angelatos (Chair), A Macro View of Microdosing. Digital symposium for the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.
- Polito, V. (2019, June). Psychedelic Science: A new frontier in mental health. Invited presentation at Science in the House, Parliament of New South Wales.