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Scientists Are Giving People Psychedelics to Understand Consciousness

Some people claim they reach a higher state of consciousness when they take psychedelics, but is this really what’s happening?

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Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin
https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46421
“What is the level of consciousness of the psychedelic state? Empirically, measures of neural signal diversity such as entropy and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) complexity score higher for wakeful rest than for states with lower conscious level like propofol-induced anesthesia. Here we compute these measures for spontaneous magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals from humans during altered states of consciousness induced by three psychedelic substances: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD.”

Evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness?
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170419091624.htm
“Scientific evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness has been found in a study led by the University of Sussex. Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity — a measure of the complexity of brain activity — of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state. The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep.”

LSD May Chip Away at the Brain’s “Sense of Self” Network
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lsd-may-chip-away-at-the-brain-s-sense-of-self-network/
“New studies-prompted by a renewed interest in potential applications of psychedelic drugs for understanding the brain or even treating some psychiatric diseases-suggest that far-reaching changes in brain connectivity contribute to the altered states of consciousness and other effects of an acid trip. The latest work paints a picture of LSD and some other hallucinogens as drugs that can decrease modularity and connectivity within brain networks while enhancing the brain’s overall connectivity, explains Frederick Barrett, a cognitive neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University who has studied hallucinogenic drug effects but was not involved in the research released this week.”

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Written By: Lauren Ellis

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