Using Magic Mushrooms For Studying
4 min

Using Magic Mushrooms For Studying: From Brain Cells To Microdosing

4 min

When people think of magic mushrooms, they usually associate the substance with strong psychedelic experiences. However, these mushrooms may also play a role in the realm of studying, memory and learning.

Magic mushrooms are known for inducing powerful psychedelic states due to the active constituent psilocybin. Psychedelic shrooms have been used throughout cultures for millennia and are still ingested today to produce an array of psychoactive experiences.

Although these mushrooms are prohibited and placed among dangerous drugs in certain parts of the world, research is beginning to reveal them in a new light


Potential mushrooms

Theoretically, psychedelic mushrooms could revolutionise the way we perceive information and study, resulting in better exam scores and a greater ability to think creatively. Below, we explore the validity of these statements to see just how much magic mushrooms help with studying.


Taking mushrooms before an exam might seem like a crazy idea to most and rightly so! Especially considering that large doses can plunge users into a full-on psychedelic states. However, it all depends on the relative time frame and the amount of shrooms consumed.

According to anecdotal accounts, consuming magic mushrooms while studying helps some individuals grasp new concepts with greater veracity. Others report the sensations as a major distraction. Based on these assumptions, taking mushrooms in larger doses immediately before an exam might not lead to a better grade.

On the other hand, ingesting a smaller dose some time in advance may display some notable benefits on test results. Although hard evidence in this area is lacking, there are some early studies which suggest shrooms positively impact brain cell productivity and connectivity. Be that as it may, these studies have only been performed on mice and other non-human subjects.


Before an exam

A study conducted at Johns Hopkins found that a single dose of mushrooms may result in long-term personality changes. These lasting effects included alterations on one's imagination, feelings and open-mindedness. Regarding this research, one area relevant to shrooms as a study aid involved its capacity to encourage the formation of abstract thoughts and ideas. This won’t always be beneficial on exams, but can help to expand your thought patterns when studying and recall information during testing.


So we have discussed the possibility of taking mushrooms before an exam, but is there any benefit to taking them afterwards? Well the main benefit here, considering the exams were done well, is the state of mind the person is in. Set and setting are key concepts to consider when tripping on shrooms and the release of tension after exam season may be the perfect context to have a positive mushroom experience.


Will results improve?

Although it is far too early to confirm whether mushrooms definitely improve test results, there is some empirical evidence to suggest legitimate potential in that area.

Given the many variables that influence the outcomes of taking shrooms, it can be hard to gather consistent accounts of individuals using the substance as a study aid. Results will also change depending on the subject matter being studied and other non-mushroom related variables.

A scientific paper titled Effects of psilocybin on hippocampal neurogenesis and extinction of trace fear conditioning published in the journal Experimental Brain research looked at the effects of administering psilocybin to mice. The study observed to what extent psilocybin modulates neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons within the brain. It also examined how this subsequently affected fear conditioning within mice.

It was discovered that specific doses of psilocybin promoted the growth of new brain cells by acting upon receptors in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that forms part of the limbic system. The hippocampus is also involved in mediating memory, emotions and motivation.

The leader of the study has stated that, “It is highly possible that in the future we will continue these studies since any interesting questions have come up from these experiments,” adding, “The hope is that we can extend the finding to humans in clinical trials.”

While the research here is extremely new and has yet to be conducted on humans, it potentiates the many possibilities of psilocybin on the brain. Perhaps once human studies have taken place and a deeper understanding of psilocybin's mechanisms has been established, magic mushrooms may be utilised further to boost memory and contribute to a successful studying session.


Brain networks

Another paper titled Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface documents a study that showed how psilocybin manages to reorganise communication within the brain to connect previously detached regions.

During the study, 15 participants were administered psilocybin and later analysed for brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This allows researchers to view any new connections being formed. An author of the study stated that, “We can speculate on the implications of such an organisation. One possible byproduct of this great communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synesthesia which is often reported in conjunction with the psychedelic state.”

Although the mechanism for these connections is currently unclear, it is thought that magic mushrooms’ ability to rewire the brain and alter mood may lead to the treatment of depression and other psychological conditions. It is interesting to consider how these elevated states may cross over into the realm of recreational use involving information processing, memory, studying and test taking.


The studies above mainly describe circumstances where fairly large doses of mushrooms were used. While there may still be benefits to consuming mushrooms for studying, it is likely smarter and more productive to air on the side of less=more.

It is certainly possible to take much smaller doses of magic mushrooms as a tool to help with studying. Perhaps the more curious among us would even utilise shrooms in an exam setting if the conditions were right. Enter microdosing. This more practical method takes the best of both worlds - all the creative and productive motivation, without the crazy psychedelic trip.


Microdosing Mushrooms

Microdosing refers to ingesting sub-perceptual doses of mushrooms, doses so small that the user does not enter a psychedelic state or even really feel the onset of one. Microdosing is becoming a very popular phenomenon used by innovators and entrepreneurs to boost the creative process and gain the upper hand against competitors.


Although there is no solid scientific research that has explored the realm of microdosing psilocybin mushrooms, there is a wealth of underground data collected from anecdotal research. Dr. James Fadiman, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide has received many reports from those who have experienced the phenomenon. Fadiman explains, “Someone taking a dose this low functions, as far as the world is concerned, a little better than normal. To date, I received no reports that sub-perceptual doses have caused any social disruption, personal upset, or any form of work-related difficulty.”

Microdosing appears to be a means to augment studying, massively due to the fact that, as Fadiman explains, they don’t cause a disturbance. Additionally, the noted benefits seem like factors that could greatly impact the learning process. Microdosing psilocybin may help people get in the study zone and heighten their energy levels.


Concerning what amount of psilocybin comprises a “microdose,” most experts suggest that between approximately 0.2-0.5g is the sweet spot. Keep in mind that factors such as body weight and sensitivity should also be considered.

Fadiman recommends a routine for those looking to microdose psilocybin. He asserts taking a microdose on Sunday, observing the residual effects on Monday and taking a day off on Tuesday. He goes on to suggest taking another microdose on Wednesday, observing the outcomes on Thursday, then taking off Friday and Saturday. This cycle is then repeated over ten weeks with participants encouraged to take notes along the way.


Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
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