How do these drugs alter consciousness in such a way? While the psychedelic experience produced by these drugs is well documented, little was known about the behavior of the brain during these trips – until now.
In a recently published study, researchers investigated the effects of a psychoactive substance and found increased activity in regions of the brain that are known to be activated during dreaming.
Interestingly, the opposite could be said for the brain network associated with higher-level thinking and self-consciousness, as the activity displayed here was dampened and disorganized.
The study has been published in Human Brain Mapping.
In order to examine the biological basis for psychedelic drug trips, Imperial College London researchers enrolled 15 volunteers for the study and gave them either a placebo or psilocybin- the psychoactive ingredient of magic mushrooms.
This therefore indicates that the participants had more potential brain states available to them, which is likely the biological basis for the “Expansion” of consciousness that is so famously associated with psychedelic drugs.
While further research is warranted, the study is exciting because it provides, for the first time, an insight into the changes in brain dynamics that occur in mind-expanding drug trips.