The active psychedelic ingredient found in certain species of mushrooms has been found to connect the brain in ways never seen before.
Psilocybin has many positive effects on the human brain, being known to cure ailments such as travel sickness and having magical effects on perception and spirituality.
They have been used for centuries with cave painting of mushrooms being found dated over 6,000 years ago.
A lack of studies on psilocybin has led to a poor understanding on exactly how the substance works, but a recent study had a ground-breaking result.
The study, conducted at Kings College, London has found that psilocybins have an effect on the brain like nothing else seen before.
“The team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brain activity of 15 healthy volunteers — once after they had taken a placebo, and once after they took the hallucinogen psilocybin. (The team chose only people who had reported past positive experiences with magic mushrooms to prevent them from panicking inside the claustrophobic MRI machines.)”
“The team then compared the brain activity of the individuals on and off the drug, and created a map of connections between different brain regions.”
“Psilocybin dramatically transformed the participants’ brain organization, Expert said. With the drug, normally unconnected brain regions showed brain activity that was synchronized tightly in time. That suggested the drug was stimulating long-range connections the brain normally wouldn’t make. After the drug wore off, brain activity went back to normal.”
“…the compound connects brain regions that don’t normally talk together.”
The study found ‘long range connections’ between areas of the brain causing a state of synesthesia which accounts for why people describe seeing colors when listening to music.
Fellow Kings College psychopharmacology researcher Mitul Mehta said:
“…through studies such as these we can really begin to tackle the questions of how we achieve coherent experiences of ourselves in the world around us, and understand what makes this break down.”
These findings could pave the way for potential treatments of depression, Expert say. Previous work has found that people are generally happier even after using psilocybin just once, but scientists would need to get a much better picture of how the drug impacts the brain before using psilocybin to treat depression, Expert said.
The research could ultimately also help answer bigger questions of the mind, like how people construct a sense of self.