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Neural changes after taking psychedelic drugs may reflect “heightened consciousness”

16 May 2017

Is there anything psychedelic drugs can’t do? A recent wave of scientific scrutiny has revealed that they can elicit “spiritual” experiences, alleviate end-of-life angst, and perhaps treat depression – and they might achieve at least some of all this by “heightening consciousness”, according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.

A team at the University of Sussex, led by Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, re-analysed existing magneto-encephalography (MEG) brain imaging data recorded from healthy people who had taken doses of either psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms), LSD or ketamine in the lab and then focused on their ensuing experience.

MEG uses magnetic fields at the brain’s surface to identify patterns of neural activity – it’s very sensitive to changes from one moment to the next but not so accurate in terms of locating activity.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.


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