Once again approaching a very highly debated topic, today we’re going to talk about drugs –LSD to be more exact. LSD, or acid, has long been said to help you become on with the universe, to renounce all ego constraints and to finally learn to accept that you are one with the world. I think Bill Hicks put it best when he said the following:
Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.
Still, as the drug became very much illegal all over the world after 1967, the opportunities to look into it with more modern technologies and procedures greatly diminished, despite the actual scientific interest never really dwindling. And this is what this article is all about.
A team of researchers led by neuropsychopharmacology professor Dr. David Nutt, from the Imperial College London, recently revealed via a study exactly how LSD makes you one with the universe. They did so with the help of modern imaging techniques, something that wasn’t available before 1967.
According to Nutt, this is the first time we can actually see what’s happening to the brain during the psychedelic state. This will greatly help us understand why the synthetic drug has such a profound impact on self-awareness, and even why people say that it’s the equivalent of several years of profound psycho-analysis.
The researchers employed several techniques to scan the brains of twenty participants for as much information as possible during the eight-hour trip – arterial spin labeling, magnetoencephalography, and resting state MRI. The results were definitely novel, as no other information on the psychedelic state was ever collected before.
It turns out that while on LSD, the visual cortex increases its communication with other areas of the brain, as well as between other brain areas which usually don’t communicate with each other. This is what is responsible for the intense and complex hallucinations, as well as for the emotional impact they make.
Even more interesting is the fact that the brain’s default mode network, the regular neuronal networks that fire together when the brain is at rest, lost its synchronization. This was correlated with the volunteers describing the disintegration of their sense of ego, a phenomenon known as ego dissolution. This is what is responsible for the feeling of being one with the universe.
The team has found out a lot more, but this is about all they gave up prior to the study being published. They are also preparing to start at least a couple more studies on the matter, hoping to come up with ways to get the illegal drug to be used as a therapeutic experience.
Image source: Wikimedia