Do Psychedelics Put Your Brain in A Waking Dream?
Psychonauts have often described their hallucinogen-fuelled experiences akin to being in a waking dream. Well, according to new research, this could be surprisingly close to the truth!
According to the new research, when taken, hallucinogens activate the networks in the brain involved with emotional thinking – more specifically, it appears the hippocampus (involved in memory and emotion), and anterior cingulate cortex (linked to states of arousal), are both activated at the same time. This is usually something that only occurs during a dream.
OBTAINING THE RESULTS
The team behind this obtained their results by taking the results of a previous study, which took fMRI scans of participants tripping on psilocybin, and applying a mathematical model called ‘entropy’ to them. This allowed them to measure the variability in brain activity in certain areas of the brain, without having to obtain a fresh set of data.
Dr. Carhart-Harris, lead researcher, had the following to say about the results “was fascinated to see similarities between the pattern of brain activity in a psychedelic state and the pattern of brain activity during dream sleep, especially as both involve the primitive areas of the brain linked to emotions and memory. People often describe taking psilocybin as producing a dream-like state and our findings have, for the first time, provided a physical representation for the experience in the brain."
PAVING THE WAY TO THE FUTURE
Although they may not sound significant in terms of practical application, these results give a very rock-solid and fundamental insight into how hallucinogens like magic mushrooms interact with the brain. With this foundation, it is much easier for scientist to further their cause, and shed light on how hallucinogens can be used for practical applications, such as medicine and therapy. Plus, its pretty damn interesting to know that when we are tripping, we really could be having something like a of waking dream!