I think it's pretty well-understood that we simply don't know much about how our brains work. Yet sometimes it's striking to realize what seemingly obvious research has yet to be done. For example, there has been so little research done on how the brain behaves on psychedelic drugs, that a team of scientists in the UK is currently crowdfunding capital in order to analyze the very first brain scans of people on LSD. The team's crowdfunding video below explains everything:
A few things to note. First, Professor David Nutt, one of the head researchers in the video above, was formerly the UK government's chief advisor on drugs before being fired in 2009. The reason for his sacking stems from an unfortunate habit of making fact-based statements that didn't jive with the home secretary's agenda. Needless to say — drugs are always going to be a tricky topic when science and politics are forced to merge. This is why it's been so difficult to obtain funds to study LSD and similar substances even though there are potentially beneficial neuroscientific insights to be gleaned from such analyses.
Second, this sort of research would be impossible without websites like Walacea, the crowdfunding platform on which the LSD researchers have amassed considerable amounts of capital. Crowdfunding has disrupted the capital industry to such a degree that the former gatekeepers who decided which projects did and did not obtain funding have been stripped of their formerly universal power, for better and for worse. The world of science has never before been infused with such a dose of populism. This is terrific news for young researchers as well as those like Dr. Nutt, whose projects are too controversial for traditional funders. On the flipside, there's also a heightened risk of funding becoming a popularity contest in which research proposals are judged more on sexiness than scientific merit.
That said, the LSD brain scan analyses that have so far been funded should provide neuroscientists with valuable clues to help advance our current efforts toward understanding consciousness and our most vital organ.
Check out the study's page on Walacea, a crowdfunding site for scientific research.
Read more at BBC.
Photo credit: Jezper / Shutterstock