How Magic Mushrooms Alter Your Brain

magic mushroomsVia Ultraculture, Jason Louv on how magic mushrooms temporarily quiet portions of the brain that normally constrain us:

According to two new studies released this week, psilocybin mushrooms apparently work by decreasing activity in key areas of the brain, rather than increasing it. Blood flow decreases to the medical prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Overactivity in the mPFC is associated with depression, one reason why psilocybin can be associated with antidepressant effects; the PCC is often associated with consciousness and identity.

Researchers suggest that what may actually be happening with psychedelics is decreased blood flow to brain areas that constrain our sensory experience of the world and our sense of identity—allowing the brain to relax its grip on ordering reality and open up to a broader spectrum.

Professor David Nutt, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “We found that psilocybin actually caused activity to decrease in areas that… constrain our experience of the world and keep it orderly. Deactivating these regions leads to a state in which the world is experienced as strange.”

5 Comments on "How Magic Mushrooms Alter Your Brain"

  1. I have nothing but MUCH LOVE for shrooms.

  2. Aeon also had a great article this week on one of those psilocybin studies with cancer patients, the ‘largest study of psychedelic medicine in more than 40 years’:

    How psychedelics are helping cancer patients fight off despair

    Choice quotes:

    About an hour later, as the drug began to take effect, the blackness inside his head turned into an onrushing cascade of white dots that swiftly morphed into a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns – gears, stars, triangles, trapezoids – in all the colours of the rainbow. He started to hear an insistent voice in his head, telling him over and over: ‘I’m going to show you what I can do.’ Fernandez slowly suspended his skepticism and reluctantly surrendered to the experience. What he perceived to be his spirit guide took him on a Marley’s ghost-style journey, with stops at his own funeral, a hellish place littered with skulls that smelled of death where he was in excruciating pain. Once his agony reached an almost unbearable crescendo, his spirit guide catapulted him through hundreds of light years of space, allowing him to escape the pain. ‘I went into this mystical state, and this intense visual palate took over my mind,’ Fernandez said.

    ‘For the first time in my life, I felt like there was a creator of the universe, a force greater than myself, and that I should be kind and loving,’ he said. ‘Something inside me snapped and I experienced a profound psychic shift that made me realise all my anxieties, defences and insecurities weren’t something to worry about.’

    When Gina Baker (not her real name) underwent a psilocybin session, like Nick Fernandez, at NYU in October 2012, she was riddled with constant worries that her ovarian cancer would return. The anxiety, along with her tough childhood, had caused her to lose control of her emotional eating, but during her psychedelic session, she was able to get past both. ‘I spent my entire life feeling like an outsider and that the world was a hostile place,’ said the 67-year-old Brooklyn native. ‘But under the influence of the drug, I saw my fear as a big black mass and I felt like I was going to be eaten alive. And then suddenly, the fear just disappeared and I felt enveloped in intense love, more deep and profound than I have ever felt, and not just for my family and dear friends but I felt at one with the universe. It was a moment of complete peace and lack of self consciousness.’

  3. From here, that bag o’shrooms don’t look dry enough for long term storage…

  4. Reuben_the_Red | Mar 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm |

    Please do not feed the apes any of those mushrooms.

  5. I did my best garden design ever on Shrooms where i was getting compliments for months from the Hispanic landscapers in our community:)! I also thought our mailman Polynesian head was bigger than a VW Bug that day and my small yorkie had turned in a psychedelic LION that day too!!

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