Magic Mushrooms And The Hyper-Connected Brain
It is well known that psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found within magic mushrooms, is the reason we are sent on otherworldly trips. We also know that it does this by interacting with the brain - somehow. But until fairly recently, the knitty-gritty details have eluded us, with some parts of its interactions being mere speculation. Now new research has shed some light on the issue and found that magic mushrooms create a hyper-connected brain.
The Effects Of Psilocybin
If you have never experienced magic mushrooms, then the best way to describe the ‘immediate’ effects an inward journey through the soul and mind. Although the hallucinations are fairly short term, the spiritual nature of a trip often has a long lasting, subtle effect – it is an effect so profound that it has been shown to have very positive outcomes on those undergoing various forms of therapy. But why is this? And how does it interact with the brain?
Forging A New Path
Science has long known that psilocybin effects the brain by binding to serotonin receptors – which in turn effects everything from mood to appetite. But this is only half the story, and doesn’t really account for the full dreamlike, elevated state of being that is often felt.
To address this a team of scientists have used fMRI scans to observe the brain in both normal and tripping participants. What they found was that brains subjected to psilocybin were dramatically transformed in terms of their organization. Areas of the brain that would not normally communicate created long range connections, synchronising themselves with each other and sharing information. It results in a hyper-connected brain that has never been seen before.
It is hypothesized that this could be the reason for the profound, and often strange experiences had whilst on mushrooms – allowing your mind to see the world in a new light as information is shared and communicated in new ways. As the immediate effects of the substance wear off, so does the hyper-connectivity.
It is no coincidence that artists and visionaries alike harness the creative boost enabled by psychedelics. Understanding that this effect is produced by an increased brain connectivity goes a long way to show the potential the substances hold in finding solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Psychedelic experiences were at the core of major technological discoveries - DNA, internet, computers - as they open up the mind to previously unseen possibilities.