- Scientists say this does not mean that the state is a ‘better’ or more desirable
- Electrical activity of the brain is less ‘integrated’ than during normal conscious
- Researchers gave healthy volunteers three drugs: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD
The first scientific evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness has been found in people tripping on acid.
Increased brain activity was recorded in scans of people who had taken magic mushrooms and ketamine, psilocybin and LSD, in a new study.
However, scientists stress that the higher state does not mean it is a ‘better’ or more desirable.
The researchers said the findings could help inform discussions gathering momentum about the carefully-controlled medical use of such drugs, for example in treating severe depression.
Images created using brain imaging technology show changes in neural signal diversity while under the influence of LSD. The red areas indicate higher levels of random brain activity than normal which happens when people take psychedelic drugs
LSD gurus have always claimed taking psychedelic drugs led users to a fabled ‘higher state of consciousness.’
The claims were regarded as a myth by the mainstream scientific community during the ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ era of the 1960s when LSD was popularised by the likes of Timothy Leary, described as ‘the most dangerous man in America’ by then US President Richard Nixon.
But now scientists at Sussex University have observed a ‘sustained increase’ in neural signal diversity – a measure of the complexity of brain activity – in people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state.
Previous studies have found decreases in signal diversity when consciousness fades, for instance in sleep, anesthesia or in the vegetative state.
But this is the first study into brain-signals that allow people to reach a higher state of consciousness .
‘This finding shows that the brain-on-psychedelics behaves very differently from normal’, said Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex
THE DANGERS OF LSD
The effects of LSD are unpredictable. Users often experience sleeplessness, tremors, a loss of appetite and extreme changes in mood.
Other experiences include horrific thoughts and feelings as well as intense fear of insanity and death.
Users struggle to work out which sensations are illusions created by the drug and which are real which means they often put their lives at risk without realising it.
A ‘bad trip’ can last for up to twelve hours and some people never recover from the LSD-induced state.
Users can also experience flashbacks long after taking the drug and it has been connected to long-term psychoses and even severe depression
‘This finding shows that the brain-on-psychedelics behaves very differently from normal’, said Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex.