24 Abril 2017 16:09
Scientists have just proven that the idea that some drugs induce a 'heightened state of consciousness' is more than a hippy fairy tale.
In a study carried out by the University of Sussex and Imperial College, London, researchers used brain scans of volunteers who received LSD, ketamine or psilocybin – a compound found in magic mushrooms – to reveal that brains under the influence of these drugs had greater activity than normal.
The scans found the most notable effects in parts of the brain that are important for perceptions, rather than other roles such as language and movement. The result is what scientists expected, although it's still not clear how the change in brain activity affects consciousness.
'I think people would have the intuitive idea that their experience on psychedelic compounds is a bit more random, a bit less constrained, that there’s a mixing of the senses, and all kinds of connections that are experienced between things that are previously unconnected,' said Anil Seth, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex.
'People tend to associate phrases like "a higher state of consciousness" with hippy speak and mystical nonsense,' said Robin Carhart-Harris, a researcher at Imperial College who took part in the study. 'This is potentially the beginning of the demystification, showing its physiological and biological underpinnings. Maybe this is a neural signature of the mind opening.'
As well as confirming what hippies have known since the 60s, this research could help scientists understand which neural activity corresponds to different levels of human consciousness.
It is also hoped that by understanding how people respond to the drugs, doctors can more accurately predict which patients might benefit from having psychedelic drugs to treat mental disorders, such as depression.
'The evidence is becoming clear that there is a clinical efficacy with these drugs,' said Seth. 'We might be able to measure the effects of LSD in an individual way to predict how someone might respond to it as treatment.'
[Via The Guardian]