This is Your Brain on Acid: New Research Reveals Benefits of LSD
Finally, the news we’ve all been waiting for. Scientists have recently been taking a deeper interest into the effects of psychoactive drugs on our brains, as well as their possible benefits. The results of one newly-published study on LSD in particular are giving us an unprecedented understanding of the drug and the complexity of our brains.
Thanks to this study, we now have a much better idea about what LSD actually does to the brain, and a bunch of trippy images to go with it (pun intended). The study, published by a group of researchers at Washington University, used three different kinds of brain imaging to get a more solid understanding of LSD’s effects on specific parts of the brain, as well as its medical potential.
As part of a neurological experiment we all wish we could’ve been part of, 20 healthy volunteers were each given an LSD injection equivalent to your average oral dose (75 micrograms). Then, the research team used three different techniques to measure the blood flow, brainwaves, and functional connectivity/communication between different parts of the brain, and compared this brain activity with that of people given a placebo.
What we have now is some solid evidence for why we hallucinate (basically, the part of our brain that processes visual info kicks into overdrive), as well as why we sometimes find profound meaning in the meaningless, or why familiar surroundings can suddenly feel alien (it has to do with altered or disrupted communication between two parts of the brain that usually work closely together).
They also confirmed that parts of the brain that process different kinds sensory information separately communicate with each other way more when on LSD, which explains why we often experience synesthesia (when you think you can hear colors, for instance, or see sounds).
But the results go beyond just telling us why all of this stuff is happening—they also offer insights into how LSD might be used scientifically and therapeutically. The findings support the idea suggested by previous studies that argue that LSD and other psychedelic drugs, due to their ability to “dismantle” the patterns of brain activity they’re rooted in, could potentially be used to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression.
Of course, this isn’t exactly a green light to start self-medicating. These last conjectures still need to be researched a lot further. But be that as it may, the future for some is lookin’ bright (and very colorful).
Images via PNAS and Clay Hickson.
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