Study Shows How LSD Mimics Infant's Mind as Ego Dissolves
Groundbreaking brain scans by a crowdfunded study at Imperial College London show how LSD affects the brain and consciousness.
A groundbreaking series of experiments show how LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) alters the operation of the brain. Scientists gave LSD to 20 healthy volunteers in a specialist research center and used cutting-edge brain scanning techniques to understand what happens once the LSD is ingested.
One significant finding of the experiments was that when volunteers took LSD, many parts of their brain contributed to visual processing, not just the visual cortex. They could essentially see things that weren’t there, experiencing dreamlike hallucinations.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the research, elaborated on this discovery:
"We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were 'seeing with their eyes shut' -- albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world. We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD -- even though the volunteers' eyes were closed. Furthermore, the size of this effect correlated with volunteers' ratings of complex, dreamlike visions. "
Dr. Carthart-Harris explained further that under LSD, people’s brain networks behave in a “unified” way, with specialized functions like vision, movement and hearing working without separation.
He said: ”Our results suggest that this effect underlies the profound altered state of consciousness that people often describe during an LSD experience. It is also related to what people sometimes call 'ego-dissolution', which means the normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of reconnection with themselves, others and the natural world. This experience is sometimes framed in a religious or spiritual way -- and seems to be associated with improvements in well-being after the drug's effects have subsided."
FIG. 1: Whole-brain cerebral blood flow maps for the placebo and LSD conditions, plus the difference map (cluster-corrected, P < 0.05; n = 15).
Interestingly, Dr. Carthart-Harris also said that the brain in the LSD state resembles the free and unconstrained brain of infancy, with its inherent hyper-emotionality and imaginative nature. He added that “our brains become more constrained and compartmentalized as we develop from infancy into adulthood, and we may become more focused and rigid in our thinking as we mature.”
It's noteworthy that the study was crowdfunded, raising almost $80,000 from individual donations. You can see their crowdfunding pitch which explains some of their approaches here:
Additional research from the same team showed for the first time that listening to music while on LSD trigged more information to be received from the parahippocampus, which is involved in mental imagery and personal memory. The combination of music and LSD triggered complex visions in the subjects, such as evoking scenes from their lives.
The researchers hope that their findings will eventually lead to new therapies involving LSD, in particular directed at conditions with entrenched negative thought patterns such as depression or addiction. The intention is to disrupt negative patterns by employing psychedelics.
"Scientists have waited 50 years for this moment -- the revealing of how LSD alters our brain biology. For the first time we can really see what's happening in the brain during the psychedelic state, and can better understand why LSD had such a profound impact on self-awareness in users and on music and art. This could have great implications for psychiatry, and helping patients overcome conditions such as depression,” said Professor David Nutt, the senior researcher on the study and Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
- Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.