A major breakthrough has just happened in the field of neuroscience — an event David Nutt, the British government’s former drugs advisor and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London has likened “to the discovery of the Higgs boson”.
From the Guardian:
The profound impact of LSD on the brain has been laid bare by the first modern scans of people high on the drug.
The images, taken from volunteers who agreed to take a trip in the name of science, have given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by one of the most powerful drugs ever created.
A dose of the psychedelic substance – injected rather than dropped – unleashed a wave of changes that altered activity and connectivity across the brain. This has led scientists to new theories of visual hallucinations and the sense of oneness with the universe some users report.
The brain scans revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains, and not just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another.
Further images showed that other brain regions that usually form a network became more separated in a change that accompanied users’ feelings of oneness with the world, a loss of personal identity called “ego dissolution”.
The insights gained from these remarkable images could help understand in far greater depth why LSD and other psychedelics have had profound effects on curing depression and anxiety.
“This experience is sometimes framed in a religious or spiritual way, and seems to be associated with improvements in wellbeing after the drug’s effects have subsided,” said co-author of the study Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, who believes the study could pave the way for LSD to be used to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression and addiction.
Thankfully, the dark years of our pointless drugs war is finally succumbing to the actual evidence, and we’re finding out about the enormous benefits certain “drugs” might have for humanity in the right context.
Most importantly though, the study will help understand what neuroscientists have traditionally referred to as “the hard problem” — the mechanics and nature of consciousness itself. Because as any good scientist knows, the best way to understand something is to perturb it, and when it comes to consciousness, LSD is one of the most powerful ways to do just that.
Mind blowing. Literally.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.