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Psilocybin as a nootropic; hippocampus, thought loops, and short term memory

Discussion in 'Nootropics' started by NeuroChi, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Staff Member

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    As far as I know, the best current description we have of the functioning of the hippocampus in short term memory is that it acts as a reservoir for information that is actively being stored in a reverberating way. It's as if the information goes round and round in there, and only lasts as long as it is maintained. This would be analogous to repeating the digits of a phone number over and over to not forget them.

    Recently I was discussing the thought loops caused by psychedelics, primarily psilocybin, and have noticed an odd resemblance. See where I'm going?

    See this thread for more information: Psychedelic Thought Loops and Cognitive Processing?

    Would taking small doses of psilocybin boost short term memory, by hyper-activating the hippocampus, forcing it to repeat the memories of the information trying to be remembered?

    Could magic mushrooms become the next nootropic, used by university students everywhere when cramming the night before and day of an exam?
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  2. Crazy Insane Sanity

    Crazy Insane Sanity Gold Member

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    Re: Psychological Thought loops, hippocampus activation, short term memory, psilocybi

    This really "feels" right. It makes a lot of sense to me...but that's not really a good thing when trying to judge an idea. "Feelings" don't count as a method of justification in my book.

    Swim thinks these thought loops could be showing something about how we associate thoughts. Swim has noticed psychedelics help the thoughts flow, but he thinks when he doesn't have any more information to associate, he gets stuck in a loop.

    He also thinks that when there is too much information, and too little is known on how that information relates together, the mind just keeps making random associations, and this is the "tumble down the rabbit hole" effect he always experiences....making all sorts of associations, until something makes sense.

    If it's hardcore activating the areas of the brain that make these associations, then I don't see why it couldn't also be increasing long-term potentiation on the thoughts that are being pondered. Swim say's it could be looked at like he's learning all this new information, and when he trips, this new input is what's most focused on, and activating these areas in this extreme manner helps strengthen LTP. He has certainly noticed he generally has a better concept of what he's trying to learn after a good trip. It'd be interesting to actually conduct some clinical research to figure out if this holds true for people not reading into it.

    This of course is all just conjecture, and I'm not educated...just interested.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  3. rawbeer

    rawbeer Titanium Member

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    Re: Psychological Thought loops, hippocampus activation, short term memory, psilocybi

    This is indeed a very interesting idea, one worthy of much consideration. I'm automatically reminded of McKenna-esque ideas about the ability of low doses of psilocybin to enhance cognitive function.

    This idea could also provide a link between the evolution of repetitive chants and rituals, the growth of human cognitive power (which you can definitely argue happened at around the same time), and the possible use of psilocybe mushrooms in prehistoric times. This is going too far but perhaps mushrooms boosted our mental abilities by generating ritual activities that themselves were based on the activities of the hippocampus - that is mushrooms and primitive rituals taught us to better manipulate our memory storage system? As I said probably going too far but worth considering...I need to read more about the hippocampus though, I don't know much about it at all.

    On many occasions Swim has taken basically sub-psychedelic doses of mushrooms and they do seem to act as an all-around mental enhancer. Ideas seem to flow more clearly, concepts are grasped faster, vision and hearing seem enhanced.

    But Swim has generally avoided the thought-loops, having too many times been stuck in a maddening mental vortex, unable to think, having mindless phrases like "raw beer and the mystery of the shadow question" played endlessly over and over in his mind as he hangs on like a poor fool dangling helplessly from the blade of a windmill, suspended over a raging sea of psychosis...

    But perhaps these thought-loops deserve to be re-visited. Another challenge has been laid.

    I really hope we get some more responses here, this is a fascinating topic.
     
  4. Crazy Insane Sanity

    Crazy Insane Sanity Gold Member

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    Re: Psychological Thought loops, hippocampus activation, short term memory, psilocybi

    Ok, after re-reading your post, I realize you were talking about short-term memory...oops, sorry.

    But I found this interesting explanation of how long-term potentiation takes place in Aplysia californica as an analogy to what we think is going on in our brains...or at least along the same lines. I couldn't help but notice serotonin was the neurotransmitter used for the modulatory interneuron to signal synaptic plasticity. Very interesting...

    http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/content/sensitization.html

    I wondered if serotonin had a similar function in the human hippocampus...did a little more googling, and found this study on acetaminophen...
    Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty certain this says the 5-ht2 receptors may prevent LTP, and increases PPF, right? Hmm...so maybe the 5-ht2 receptors somehow decrease LTP, and increase short-term memory? Does paired-pulse facilitation play a role in short-term memory? This is way over my head...

    Anyway, I wish I could keep reading on the subject, but I have other studying to do...hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  5. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Staff Member

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    Re: Psychological Thought loops, hippocampus activation, short term memory, psilocybi

    These are some excellent points, I think it is noteworthy to differentiate between the substantial qualitative differences between a low dose and a high dose - and moderate doses in between.

    High doses cause the inescapable thought loops we are discussing, especially during the lack of external stimuli, i.e., when one has created a sensory deprivation environment. On the contrary, an environment rich in rapidly changing stimuli or or a captivating activity can attenuate the thought loops. (I wish there were a more 'sophisticated' term for 'thought loops, but it'll have to do for now.)

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge," and your interest surely facilitates you imagination. :cool:

    Do go on about these McKenna-esque ideas about psilocybin as a nootropic (which promoted me to change the title of this thread). Increasing easy of thought flow, interest, and promoting a positive mood would all class psilocybin as a nootropic IMO.

    I had no idea (still aren't sure) if there is any LTP going on in the hippocampus. I thought it was primarily (only?) associated with short term memory.

    If APAP reduces this LTP, and 5-HT antagonists block this effect, that would mean serotonin (an agonist) would have no effect/opposite effect I think, ergo also reduce LTP. Psilocybin is a 5-HT agonist too.

    Hehe, that's what my friend had to do, so I posted this for him.

    Trip report coming next...
     
  6. Crazy Insane Sanity

    Crazy Insane Sanity Gold Member

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    Re: Psychological Thought loops, hippocampus activation, short term memory, psilocybi

    Hehe, what about iterated cognitive cycling? :)

    And I thought LTP was mostly involved in long-term memory (hence the name long-term potentiation)? I had this picture in my head of short-term memory activating certain pathways. The more times that pathway is activated, the more it changes the synaptic plasticity, until long-term physical changes take place to the neuron that creates an increased likelihood of an action potential to be generated...this increased likelihood of an action potential makes it easier to activate those pathways, and thus retrieve the associated memories.

    --edit--

    Or how about recursive cognition? I like that one!
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  7. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Staff Member

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    SO my friend lives in a country where magic mushrooms are legal, or so he claims anyway, and after telling him about my thoughts on the idea of using magic mushrooms as a nootropic he decided going for it! What a nutter, anyway, he says it was an overall success, but the efficiency would have to be determined by empirical evidence, because these experience are highly variable and subjective.

    The back story is that he obtained some 36mg concerta (methlyphenidate) and was using that off and on for studying purposes, but felt that it wasn't really doing the trick though. The third exam he had to prepare for just wasn't going as well as the other two, and he wanted to try something else. All the meanwhile he had been maintaining his standard nootropic regime, which will be posted below. He came across this idea and went for it.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    8:45

    Woke up, took a shower, made breakfast. Having studied somewhat unproductively the day before, decided to start off the day with a clear mind.

    9:15
    Consumed magic mushrooms, standard nootropic regime, 1 cup coffee.

    • 0.5g psilocybe cubensis, dried
    • 1g piracetam
    • 500mg choline
    • 200mcg huperzine A
    • 100mg centrophenoxine
    • b vitamin
    • 1 cup instant coffee
    Started studying in a bottom up fashion. Approximately 280 lecture slides of information were already divided into a few different files, so he began by marking each page with a number for each one of the files. Then he started at the first one, divided that into sections with h1 headers, and moved onto the second. That was divided into sections as well, and so forth. When he was finished, he went back to the first page, and starting writing down more specific headers, h2, with slightly more detailed information.

    This took about a total of 1.5 hours, at which point he added a 0.25g 'booster'. He thought that this way of studying would help associate the highest order 'headers', or 'topics', in the same state of mind, with more and more detailed information later on as the effects progressed. Jumping back thought...

    9:45
    After 30 minutes, the effects had come on. He had a slight background glow of mood elevation and focus. His head started out quite foggy but something clicked in once the caffeine and psilocybin started to work (and maybe the others too). This was the start of the most focused he felt during the whole experience. He continued.

    10:45
    Consumed more magic mushrooms, and some methylphenidate.

    • 0.25g psilocybe cubensis, dried
    • 4mg methylphenidate
    He continued studying, and by this time had reached the most detailed level of information, lets say h4 headers and subsequent details. Noteworthy is that he was reading the slides over and over in more detail and actively storing important information and writing down notes as well.

    His focus was still good, any anxiety was relieved, possibly the most beneficial aspect of psilocybin as a nootropic. He felt that the information was making sense and flowing more easily. No strong psychedelic effects were present.

    11:20
    Had to meet a friend and went for a walk outside. Very enjoyable, the sub was out, he was in a good mood. Anxiolytic effects quite pronounced.

    11:45
    Back in his room, resumed studying.

    12:00
    He was feeling the second wave of mushrooms kick in. It was somewhat too strong; heavy chest, somewhat intense euphoria for studying, and it was difficult to stick with studying. He lied down for a couple minutes, then got back to it. This peak/plateau lasted until 12:30. He made lunch around this time and had finished eating by 12:45, at which point he got back to studying.

    12:45
    Focus still good, but not as good as it was. The peak/plateau was over and he was riding the comedown which was quite smooth. Kept at the studying, writing down notes, reviewing information. This lasted until 2:00, at which point he was finished studying on his own and went to meet up with friends.

    2:00
    Baseline. Took piracetam.

    • 1g piracetam

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other notes:

    For one, he would have waited another hour before adding the second boost of 0.25g.

    He continued to study until his exam at 5:30, and felt that he was just reviewing info but not absorbing any more.

    In the 30 minutes prior to his exam, he got a little but stressed because he felt as if information was starting to jumble around. He felt that he was starting to forget/mix things up.

    When he sat down to right the exam, he relaxed and told himself to let the information flow back to him. He knew it was in his head.

    The exam went very well, it was slightly easier than expected, but all of the information he needed to recall came back quite easily. It was less detailed than he was preparing for, but it turns out those details were the last bit he was forgetting, while quite able to recall concepts and big pictures.

    Definitely giving it another go some time.
     
  8. Nnizzle

    Nnizzle Gold Member

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    Would love to hear about an experience sans the "standard" nootropics and methylphenidate (even though 4mg is a rather low dose my dog believes?). Can your friend perhaps make a comparison between how he normally feels with the nootropic regime vs the regime + the mushrooms? vs w/ or w/o methylphenidate? Was it really discernible enough to differentiate between placebo? i.e. perhaps hoping it would help studying made it easier for him to study anyway... How does your friend do on tests like this normally? My dog isn't trying to cast doubt, just wondering because he is actually quite intrigued by this idea.
     
  9. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Staff Member

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    That's what I thought too. It's mediated by the NMDA and AMPA receptors, which cause cells that 'fire together to wire together'. Gonna have to look into this notion of LTP in the hippocampus though.

    You bring up some very good questions. 4mg is a low dose, he just wanted a little more norepinephrine available to heighten his focus, and had been using it the days prior so this tolerance was up a little bit anyway.

    The main differences (between nootropic VS nootropic + mushroom) were the mood lift and sense of well being. The psilocybin definitelly eased the anxiety he was feeling, which was a result of not being preapred enough. This definitelly helped him focus during the last 5 hours or so the morning of the day of his exam.

    I would attribute the majority of effects to the psilocybin rather than placebo. It was the peak/plateau that reminded him of the 15+ experiences he has had with mushrooms. The grin plastered to his face, the breathtaking effects, the happiness and general well being.

    He normally does well on mid term exams. This was the 3rd one in a short period of time, so his general amount of focus was dwindling, he was beginning to lack sleep, he hadn't been to the gym, and other factors started to weight in negatively. Generally speaking he would do best on the first few and then worse on the following exams if all else was equal.

    More tests with only mushrooms are going to follow.
     
  10. D.A.R.E.

    D.A.R.E. Newbie

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    Swim thinks we always have thought loops going on. When people think deeply on a subject, it is common for them to repeat an idea over and over until a new revelation forms.

    The psychedelics just force you to go over the process in much greater detail, not to mention they get you stuck in the loops.
     
  11. bluntshell

    bluntshell R.I.P. Titanium Member

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    I would be curious to see a test done with smaller dosages (sub threshold), perhaps .25 g to start and .125 g boosters.

    Or did your friend feel the need for the higher dose (though still realitivly small, I know) for nootropic effects to appear?
     
  12. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Staff Member

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    Nope, he just thought that was appropriate given his prior experience with the substance. He wasn't sure what would be best, it was only a first trial.
     
  13. EscapeDummy

    EscapeDummy Palladium Member

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    Thanks for the experience report, although we'll need a few more experience reports before making a judgment. Supporting the hypothesis, I have heard that Hoffman claimed a sub-threshold (25-35ug?) dose of LSD functioned as a nootropic, boosting memory and cognition, and psilocybin is structurally and functionally similar to LSD, no?
     
  14. Lollante

    Lollante Silver Member

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    It would be fantastic if someone was dedicated enough to get some more objective testing of this theory - something like 3 test exams with the mushroom regime and 3 without.

    I'd also be interested to know if being under the influence DURING the exam helped at all.
     
  15. psylotropical

    psylotropical Newbie

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    very interesting and very well supported discussion. as to swims friend, parko, he started taking shrooms hes growing and he keeps telling me about all the wonders they have done to him, not only while tripping and enjoying the trip itself but, and without going into too many technicalities, hes saying that the shrooms have enhaced every aspect of his life, whether its the lack of iniciative he was lacking or the lack of concentration, confidence, massive anxiety, massive long term depression... parko's now looks like a new self, starting to enjoy life and being aware of whats going on around him and paying attention to the things he loves but he though he had forgot.

    all in all parko says that is senses r alive now, hes now able to eloquently and clearly communicate and get on with people, concentrate, read, focus.. something impossible a few time back. whether this is due to the shrooms or not parko doesnt exactly know, but it's a massive coincidence no matter what

    parko's still afraid of going back to that dark place where hes been for ages but still... theres a glimpse of optimism about it all. also parko is resuming studies soon and hes confident hes now got the ability to succeed even though theres still a long process into reaching long term goals and the state of mind parko's looking for.

    Bless