Scientists Are Giving People Psychedelics to Understand Consciousness

To find out, a recent study gave volunteers intravenous doses of either LSD, psilocybin or ketamine. Then they did exactly what you'd think they'd do: lock their tripping volunteers in a loud, claustrophobic machine to scan their brains.

The researchers found their brain activity was more random and less integrated, which could explain the randomness of thought that reportedly happens under the influence of psychedelics. They also found that these compounds affected parts of the brain that deal with perception. Essentially, parts of the brain that didn't normally communicate were saying, "Hey There!," creating what they called a "mixing of the senses" - sort of like a chemically induced synaesthesia.

The researchers called this a "higher state of consciousness," which coincidentally is what hippies or monks might call this state of mind. But the researchers made a point to say that "higher" does not mean "better" or more "desirable." Instead, this is just the first time we've measured brain-signal diversity that's higher than normal. And that more research is likely needed!

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