Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Extended Mind — POSTED BY Brainwaving Admin on August 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm

“The use of psychedelics to induce mood change, combined with cutting edge technologies, such as PET scanning, is helping to map brain states and improve our understanding of neurochemistry, brain anatomy and mood states…


Investigating Altered States of Consciousness Induced by Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and its Potential Effects on Creativity

Amanda Feilding in collaboration with an institution not yet to be disclosed

“The use of psychedelics to induce mood change, combined with cutting edge technologies, such as PET scanning, is helping to map brain states and improve our understanding of neurochemistry, brain anatomy and mood states… Psychedelics could be a powerful tool in the development of a better understanding of mind-brain interactions, personality and cognition…I think it is one of the travesties of modern psychiatry and neuroscience that more people have not looked at this … there has not been a single study of LSD since the last one was shut down 35 years ago”

- Dave Nichols is Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Purdue University, USA.

The Beckley Foundation was particularly proud to receive in spring 2007 the final approvals for the first study in over 30 years with human participants involving lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Since the last phase of LSD research in the 1950s and 1960s, both our understanding of neuroscience has expanded exponentially, and so too has our ability to observe the workings of the brain with modern neuroimaging techniques. Moreover, new tools for studying consciousness have been developed, greatly aided by advances in computational power and data analysis that allow us to model and understand complex systems. There is therefore a great opportunity to expand our understanding of the functioning of the brain by using LSD as a tool to alter consciousness, and thereby determine how observed changes in neural activity relate to changes in conscious experience. By analysing the functionings of the brain in an altered state using a substance with a well studied and understood neuropharmacological action, we will also gain insights into the workings of normal consciousness.

One focus of our enquiry involves measuring wide-spread synchronous activity in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG). Synchrony appears to be a way for groups of neurons to selectively communicate with a subset of their many physical connections and may therefore be the foundation on which consciousness rests. Single neuron studies of psychedelics have indicated that these substances affect neural oscillations, consistent with their profound effects on consciousness. By studying neural oscillations at both regional and global levels we should be able to relate this neural-level research on psychedelics to changes in conscious experience.

EEG has already been shown to be a suitable means of measuring psychedelic-induced changes in neural oscillations.  Indeed, a small EEG study found that the psychedelic brew ayahuasca increased synchrony of high frequency oscillations. Whilst other researchers are successfully mapping relations between neural oscillations and non-psychedelic states of consciousness, none have tried to map such relations within psychedelic states.

A further focus for our investigation will be of the neural basis for how LSD might potentiate creativity. We hypothesise that, compared to placebo, LSD will lead to dose-dependent increases in the spread of the network of neural association and simultaneous neural activity. In addition, we will investigate the effects of LSD on creativity by measuring insightful problem solving and visualisation.

When and how do psychedelics affect creativity?  Many people in science and industry attribute some of their successes to the effects of psychedelics.  Changes in understanding, insight, and meaning are classic effects of psychedelics.  But no one has proven that psychedelics enhance creativity.

Good science can turn ideas into accepted facts.  For example, recent scientific studies of psychedelics and mystical experience have helped shift cultural attitudes towards these substances.  We hope to achieve the same thing with non-spiritual aspects of psychedelic experience.

Psychedelics change one’s sense of meaning and produce feelings of insight and understanding.  We propose that many effects of psychedelics can be explained by a simple mechanism—decreased reliance on expectations about what is likely.  Essentially, people on psychedelics often have an altered sense of what is ordinary and what is remarkable.  The familiar can be seen with fresh eyes. This hypothesis provides a possible explanation about why psychedelics should increase creativity.  In informal terms, making too many assumptions is often what prevents us from seeing a novel answer to a problem.  Decreased reliance on assumptions may allow breakthroughs.  Along similar lines, Oscar Janiger, who studied creativity by giving LSD to many artists over an eight-year period, discusses how LSD might “decondition the individual, to throw open the gates that normally confine our perceptions to familiar territory.”  The ultimate goal of this research program is to be able to provide clues regarding how to make creative states more likely for individuals.

Since, the mid 1960s when the last studies of the effects of LSD were carried out there have been significant advances in psychology and neuroscience.  Tools for studying consciousness have been developed that were not available in the past.  Successfully understanding the untapped powers of the consciousness is not a mere act of curiosity.  Now, more than ever we collectively need access to the wisdom and abilities hidden inside our minds.

This pilot study should therefore improve our understanding of some of the fundamental processes, such as neural synchrony, that underpin our conscious experience, and hopefully open a new chapter into the study of psychedelics and how they might be used to explore the mind and develop beneficial states of consciousness through heightened awareness.

    1 Comment

  • Shrimp says:

    Dear Brainwaving team,

    I am your number one (if only) fan.

    It looks great and I cannot wait to see how it flourishes.

    We can make the world a better place!

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