The medical research on psychedelic drugs like LSD is controversial and may be conducted only under special conditions. Nevertheless, in recent years the interest of scientists in this controversial topic has grown. British researchers now have the world's first magnetic resonance imaging study of a hallucinogenic mushroom performed.
Psilocybin is a substance, the so-called "magic mushrooms" lends its psychedelic effect: the mind is relaxed, freer, more dreamlike and hallucinatory. The effect resembles that of LSD intoxication, but is less intense and shorter and some can become psychologically dependent, but are rarely physically addictive. Therefore, scientists use psilocybin to explore if they want, such as how hallucinogenic substances act in the brain and whether they are therapeutically useful. A team led by neuropharmacologist Robin Carhart-Harris, from Imperial College in London went into this now pioneered new methodology. In 15 volunteers, he examined the first time using magnetic resonance imaging, what psilocybin causes in the brain.
"We found that central regions of the brain that are turned off by psilocybin that ensure the internal cohesion of its activity in the brain and make it predictable. Their reduced activity ensures that at all hallucinogenic substances may be so bizarre."
Robin Carhart-Harris, however, was even surprised that the MRI findings pointed exclusively to reduced brain activity. For some groups of researchers had previously found with other methods for psilocybin in the frontal lobe and increased activity. A widely accepted explanatory model that Zurich researchers made have shown it to have been responsible for increased activity that turns on in the brain.
"One reason that our results have been different, lies in the fact that we have psilocybin injected intravenously and not fed as usual in capsules. We were thus able to measure the immediate effects of psilocybin in the brain, even before the conscious experience changed. In Zurich, however, it had been measured brain readings later, when the subjects had been responding strongly to the drug. There had probably been already adjustment processes that explain the different results. "
The previously found overexcitation in the brain would therefore not be directly attributed to psilocybin. These results of the London research group energize those in the previous explanatory model of hallucinogenic mushrooms to think again. In relation to the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, the British study does, however, stay consistent with other research results. The team led by Robin Carhart-Harris has his subjects also extensively questioned about what they experienced in psychedelic noise.
"We have seen in the subjects spontaneously and very much alive, buried memories appear again. This fits the idea that here the strict bonds of ego-control be relaxed place to ensure that bad, painful memories and feelings were pushed aside. The noise dissolves the ego-control and repressed contents come more readily to the surface. "
Robin Carhart-Harris thinks so: When psilocybin is administered under strict medical supervision in moderation, it could help in treatment process of bringing unconscious conflicts to light, so that they are treatable.