LSU Health New Orleans researchers have found that psychedelic drugs directly activate only about 5 percent of brain cells, even in the most highly responding areas of the brain, according to school officials.

Led by Charles Nichols, an associate professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, the research is the first to comprehensively examine the effects of psychedelics at the cellular and molecular level in the living brain.

The research, done on rodents and published online in the journal EbioMedicine, represents a major step toward understanding how psychedelic drugs alter brain function, according to Nichols.

The research found other types of cells than neurons were activated in the rodents’ brains, and the types of cells activated differed between brain regions. Instead of thinking that one region or another of the brain is activated by psychedelics, experts now know the activation represents a complex interplay between specific subsets of cell types.

In a release, officials called the research "a leap forward" toward understanding the ability of psychedelics to potentially treat anxiety, depression and addiction, as well as cognitive processes.

Southern Rep joins Loyola for residency

Southern Rep Theatre has established a two-year residency at Loyola University in New Orleans under the university theater department's new artistic director, Laura Hope.

Both theaters will offer a series of new plays and reimagined classics during the 2016-17 season.

Hope, an award-winning director, actor and theater professor, assumed leadership of Loyola’s theater and dance department in January as department chairwoman.

Founded in 1986, Southern Rep is a critically acclaimed regional theater company that produces world premieres, other new plays and classics under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes.

Southern Rep’s stated mission is to develop and produce new plays that reflect the diversity of New Orleans, to provide professional theater of the highest artistic quality and to establish a creative working environment that nurtures theater professionals, according to a release announcing the partnership.

The theater — founded by Loyola professor emeritus Rosary O’Neill — has long held workshops and summer camps at Loyola, and a number of Loyola students, staff, faculty and alumni have performed in or helped produce Southern Rep plays.

The two-year residency at Loyola will give theater students opportunities to see professional plays in development and take part in the production of regional premieres.

Southern Rep Theatre's full production facility is being built in Mid-City.

UNO leads state in early career salaries

University of New Orleans alumni were found to have the highest average early-career salaries among graduates of all four-year public and private colleges in Louisiana, according to a new report from Payscale.com.

In the 2016-17 College Salary Report, bachelor’s degree earners from UNO with 0-5 years of work experience reported median annual earnings of $47,700.

The Pew Research Center found the national middle-income range in 2014 to be about $24,000 to $72,000 annually for a one-person household (or $42,000 to $125,000 for a household of three). Therefore, a "measurable number of recent UNO graduates" report having achieved middle-class earning status early in their careers, according to a release from the school.

UNO was also recently recognized for the sixth year in a row as a university whose graduates carry some of the lightest debt loads.

Payscale.com is the proprietor of the world’s largest salary profile database. The data used in their report are collected through an online compensation survey and are tested and verified before being included in publicly released reports.

The survey sample considered for the 2016-17 College Salary Report was 1.4 million degree-holding college graduates who are full-time, civilian employees working in the U.S. The report explores earnings reported by employees with associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate and law degrees. 

Of the approximately 2,600 bachelor's degree-granting schools in the U.S, the report included 983 schools that enroll more than 74 percent of the estimated undergraduates in bachelor's degree programs in the U.S.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.