Scientists now have an almost perfect picture of LSD's effects on the brain.

In a recent study in London, 20 physically and mentally healthy volunteers were given an injection of 75mcg of LSD on one day, and a placebo injection on the other. With the help of a new modern brain scan technique named Arterial Spin Labelling, scientists measured the blood flow, functional connections within and between brain networks and brainwaves, and were able to gain more insight into the neural basis for the effects of LSD.

“This is to Neuroscience what the Higgs Boson was to Particle Physics,” says David Nutt, UK government’s former drug advisor and Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology. “We didn’t know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn’t be bothered to overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done,” he adds.

Participants reported complex and dreamlike visions and images, but also feelings of oneness with the universe and loss of personal identity. According to the new studies, regions in the brain that were once segregated connected to one another, with help of one of the most powerful drugs on earth.

“We saw many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD, even though volunteers’ eyes were closed,” scientist Robert Carhart-Harris says.

While some parts of the brain’s networks seemed to connect, others broke down, as scans revealed a loss of connections between the Parahippocampus and another region known as the Retrosplenial Cortex. Nonetheless, this groundbreaking study could lead the way for LSD and other psychedelics to be used in medicine and to treat psychiatric disorders.

Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation, said: “We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal, but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself.”

Via The Guardian

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