April 23, 2017

SHOCK STUDY: Scientists discover what really happens to those taking LSD

21 April 2017, 02:15 | Rodolfo Wallace



During the psychedelic state, the electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less "integrated" than during normal conscious wakefulness - as measured by "global signal diversity, '" Anil Seth from the University of Sussex, and the co-author of a study detailing the findings, said in a statement. They also make it a point to note that analyzing neural signal diversity is an "imperfect approach", pointing out that because "each participant has their own yardstick for evaluating the strength of an experience", associating their trip's intensity with what's going on with their brain will inevitably be inexact.

However, while the study showed higher levels of brain activity, the researchers noted that this does not necessarily mean that the brain activity of those under psychedelic influence was a "better or more desirable state of consciousness".

"People often say they experience insight under these drugs - and when this occurs in a therapeutic context, it can predict positive outcomes".

LSD, ketamine and the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, increased neural signal diversity in the magnetic fields of the brain.

While the results may seem as a vindication for advocates of psychedelic drugs, Seth told The Independent that this heightened consciousness really only exists in a mathematical sense, as neural activity in certain areas of the brain is higher than normal.

For the objective of their study, the researchers focused on three drugs - lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine and psilocybin.

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Using brain imaging data from people on psychedelics that had previously been collected by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff, they looked for patterns in brain activity and compared it to the patterns in normal brains.

"The present study's findings help us understand what happens in people's brains when they experience an expansion of their consciousness under psychedelics".

The findings could help inform discussions gathering momentum about the carefully-controlled medical use of such drugs, for example in treating severe depression.

Studies involving the diversity of brain signals, which give a mathematical index to the level of consciousness, generally focus on lowered states of consciousness such as sleep.

It's also interesting to note that although ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin have different pharmaceutical mechanisms of action, a clear similarity in the cortical localization of changes in signal diversity was reported. The latest research can help scientists better understand how these drugs impact the human brain, and how they might be harnessed to treat mental health problems. "This suggests that our measure has close links not only to global brain changes induced by the drugs, but to those aspects of brain dynamics that underlie specific aspects of conscious experience".

The next research goal will be to identify more specifically how information flow through the brain changes during psychedelic experience, such as during hallucinations. For now, however, researchers at the Sussex University in the United Kingdom just wanted to see what effect these drugs have on our brain.

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