For the first time ever, researchers were able to see what happens in the human brain when LCD is brought into the equation.
A team from Imperial College London, working with the Beckley Foundation, has conducted a series of experiments to gain a new understanding of what goes on in the brain when the psychedelic compound is administered.
Researchers put 20 healthy volunteers on LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) under specialist care in a medical center and used various brain scanning techniques to catch a glimpse of how LSD alters the way the brain activity.
Featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the findings disclose the brain’s reaction when people experience the complex dreamlike hallucinations under the LSD influence.
Usually, information from our eyes is processed in the visual cortex, an area of the brain located at the back of the head. But, when LSD is involved, visual processing took place in many additional brain areas.
Leading researcher Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, explained that experiments suggested that volunteers on LSD could see with their eyes shut – not the outside world, but things created by their imagination.
At the same time, certain limits in the brain that separate independent networks from one another seemed to become fuzzier under LSD. In normal conditions, the brain has different functions like movement, vision, hearing or attention that work on their own.
However, LSD caused these networks to blend together, leading to a “more integrated or unified brain.” This effect is responsible for the altered state of consciousness that users often feel during an LSD experience.
It’s also possible that this effect is also related to the so-called “ego-dissolution.” In other words, LSD can cause a breaking down of the self and a reconstruction with a newfound sense of connection with themselves, others and the world.
According to the study’s results, the brain seems to return to an infant state, being unconstrained and free, rather than compartmentalized and rigid like an adult’s.
This conclusion also makes sense when it comes to the similarities between an infant and an adult under LCD influence, such as the hyper-emotional and imaginative nature of the mind.
Meanwhile, research coming from the same group revealed that listening to music while taking LSD caused interesting changes in brain.
Scientists found that the combination altered the activity of the visual cortex activity, triggering the parahippocampus to receive more information. This area of the brain is linked to mental imagery and personal memory, and its activation caused people to experience more complex visions.
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