Lithium remains the gold standard in treating bipolar disorder but has unwanted toxicity and side effects. We previously reported that ebselen inhibits inositol monophosphatase (IMPase) and exhibits lithium-like effects in animal models through lowering of inositol. Ebselen has been tested in clinical trials for other disorders, enabling us to determine for the first time the effect of a blood-brain barrier penetrant IMPase inhibitor on human central nervous system (CNS) function. We now report that in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with healthy participants, acute oral ebselen reduced brain myo-inositol in the anterior cingulate cortex, consistent with CNS target engagement. Ebselen decreased slow-wave sleep and affected emotional processing by increasing recognition of some emotions, decreasing latency time in the acoustic startle paradigm and decreasing the reinforcement of rewarding stimuli. In summary, ebselen affects the phosphoinositide cycle and has CNS effects on surrogate markers that may be relevant to the treatment of bipolar disorder, which can be tested in future clinical trials.