How Magic Mushrooms Really 'Expand the Mind'

#1
Saw this on Yahoo today. Seems to contradict the earlier UK study. I personally didn't think psilocybin was dream-like at all, for what it's worth.

http://news.yahoo.com/magic-mushrooms-really-expand-mind-115429129.html

Your brain on psychedelic drugs looks similar to your brain when you're dreaming, suggests a new study that may also explain why people on psychedelics feel they are expanding their mind.

In the study, the researchers scanned the brains of 15 people before and after they received an injection of psilocybin, the hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms.

Under psilocybin, the activity of primitive brain areas thought to be involved in emotion and memory — including the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex — become more synchronized, suggesting these areas were working together, the researchers said.

This pattern of brain activity is similar to that seen in people who are dreaming, the researchers said. [Trippy Tales: The History of 8 Hallucinogens]

"I was fascinated to see similarities between the pattern of brain activity in a psychedelic state and the pattern of brain activity during dream sleep," study researcher Robin Carhart-Harris, of Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "People often describe taking psilocybin as producing a dreamlike state and our findings have, for the first time, provided a physical representation for the experience in the brain."

In contrast, the activity in brain areas involved in "high-level" thinking (such as self-consciousness) were less coordinated under psilocybin, the study found.

Finally, using a new technique to analyze the brain data, the researchers found that there were more possible patterns of brain activity when participants were under the influence of psilocybin, compared with when they were not taking the drug. This may be one reason why people who use psychedelic drugs feel that their mind has expanded — their brain has more possible states of activity to explore, the researchers said.

The researchers caution that, because some techniques used in the study are new, more research is needed to confirm the findings. The study is published today (July 3) in the journal Human Brain Mapping.
 
#2
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-07-biological-basis-magic-mushroom-mind.html

This looked like a better article on same study

As part of the new study, the researchers applied a measure called entropy. This was originally developed by physicists to quantify lost energy in mechanical systems, such as a steam engine, but entropy can also be used to measure the range or randomness of a system. For the first time, researchers computed the level of entropy for different networks in the brain during the psychedelic state. This revealed a remarkable increase in entropy in the more primitive network, indicating there was an increased number of patterns of activity that were possible under the influence of psilocybin. It seemed the volunteers had a much larger range of potential brain states that were available to them, which may be the biophysical counterpart of 'mind expansion' reported by users of psychedelic drugs.
 
#3
With the entropy thing, seems like they're making a lot of assumptions. Who says any given state is a state that can produce consciousness, when we have no idea how consciousness can be produced. Reminds me a bit of the combinatorial problem we've all discussed with DNA, proteins, etc. Lots of "states", but how many are actually functionally specific.
 
#4
Saw this on Yahoo today. Seems to contradict the earlier UK study.
I've not read the paper yet, here's a link to it... http://arxiv.org/pdf/1405.6466v1.pdf

I'm not sure that it is in conflict with Carhart-Harris's earlier paper (which I'm assuming you were referring to), he's listed as an author of this one too.

This is a nice article authored by Carhart-Harris a couple of months ago, concerning a different issue surrounding the posterior cingulate cortex, but touching on many areas of similarity...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983501/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983501/
 
#5
I've not read the paper yet, here's a link to it... http://arxiv.org/pdf/1405.6466v1.pdf

I'm not sure that it is in conflict with Carhart-Harris's earlier paper (which I'm assuming you were referring to), he's listed as an author of this one too.

This is a nice article authored by Carhart-Harris a couple of months ago, concerning a different issue surrounding the posterior cingulate cortex, but touching on many areas of similarity...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983501/

Ahh, maybe I am misreading what they're trying to say then, just sounded a bit different from the "overall reduction", as Bernardo also talked about on his blog.

If folks have time to read the paper ( I doubt I will be able to ) would love to hear they they think.
 
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