In what is being called a scientific breakthrough, scientists for the first time have mapped the effect of LSD on the brain.
CNN reports that brain scans were taken from volunteers who agreed to take the drug associated with hallucinations and a feeling of oneness with the universe. The drug also can induce paranoia – or what is known among recreational users as a bad trip.
The findings have given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by one of the most powerful drugs ever created.
As a result, LSD is getting mad respect in scientific circles these days.
The Post reported in February about another study that found that long-term use of the drug could lead to improved psychological well-being. The Imperial College London study found that the use of the creates “cognitive looseness” and leads to “highly enhanced mental flexibility.”
Imperial was at it again by taking these brain scans that revealed subjects experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains. Usually, it is just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information
In an even more intriguing finding, scientists learned the drug allowed regions of the brain once segregated to speak one another.
David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial, was ecstatic.
“This is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics,” he said. “We didn’t know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn’t be bothered to overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done.”
LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, was first synthesized in 1938 and was part of extensive research until the 1960s when the drug started being used for recreation and led to it being banned.
In a story on the brain scan study in The Guardian, researchers said their findings could pave the way for LSD or related chemicals to be used to treat psychiatric disorders.
Nutt said the drug could pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.
Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation that helped fund the study said, said: “We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself.”