Psilocybin mushrooms also known as magic mushrooms can alter the perception and cognition of the user in a profound ways. Many individuals describe the experience as if they were in a dream-like state with a vivid imagination.
How Do Entheogens Work?
Although each individual had a slightly different experience than the other, many people wonder how they work and how they alter our ordinary state of consciousness. And although the effect of psychedelic medicines has been well documented, until just recently, very little was known about exactly how the brain behaves during these experiences.
How Long Do the Effects of Magic Mushrooms Last?
The hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms generally last about 5 hours; however, the experience itself will be something the individual will likely ponder over many times. Enhancement of associations, different perspectives that were opened while under the influence, coupled with the ease at which they were visited is something that the person will reflect on and contemplate for a while. Set, setting and intention are most important when experimenting with entheogens. They should always be done under supervision and guidance with the right intention. Done irresponsible they can be dangerous.
Human Brain Mapping
A recent study, published in Human Brain Mapping, found increased activity in regions of the brain responsible for our dreams when we’re sleeping. On the other hand, the part of the brain ordinarily responsible for higher level thinking and self consciousness became disorganized and muddled. This is therefore considered a physical representation of what a Psychedelic experience feels like.
During the study, 15 volunteers were given either a placebo or a substance called psilocybin, which is the psychoactive ingredient contained in magic mushrooms. Functional Resource Imaging was used to make images of the brain before, during, and after the administration of the drug.
While under the influence of psilocybin, it was found that brain activity increased in the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex. The cingulate cortex is closely linked with the feeling of arousal. The hippocampus is used for memory, emotion, and learning. In addition, the study also found dulled activity in areas of the brain from which individuals obtain a true sense of self.
Individuals also displayed a much broader range of activity patterns on the emotional system. This indicates that individuals actually had more potential brain states available. This is the biological basis for the expansion of consciousness associated with psychedelic drugs.
State of Consciousness
As verified by published studies, taking magic mushrooms has the ability to expand your mind by amplifying the dream areas, but doing it while you’re in a conscious state of mind. Individuals will likely experience thoughts, feelings, and emotions they would not have otherwise experienced. In fact, psychedelic drugs can alter consciousness in a profound way and increase the extent and breadth of cognition and change the way you perceive things.
Ego and Emotions
While the effect of this entheogen can be compared to that of dreaming, the part of the brain from which we get our sense of self and personal identity was shown to become disjointed while under the influence of psychedelics.
Data from brain imaging and published studies supports the theory that the psychedelic state of mind involves disorganized activity and unusual function of the ego system that permitted uninhibited emotional activity and responses. These qualities explain why further study is required to determine if psychedelics might be used to facilitate certain types of psychotherapy.
Although additional study is necessary, the recent news is exciting and encouraging because it gives us a new insight into the changes that take place in the mind during the hallucinogenic and mind-expanding trips. Only just recently have researchers been unable to provide a reasonable explanation as to how the brain changes while under the influence of such psychedelic drugs that accounts for its mind-expanding effects.
Learning more about what happens to our brain while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs may also help is figure out possible uses. This includes treating the symptoms of depression by using psilocybin to help change an individual’s pessimistic and self-destructive pattern of thinking. Doctors are presently studying the effects of LSD and creative thinking as well.
Research into the effects of psychedelic drugs continues presently at the Cardiff University and the Imperial College London. The studies explore how psychedelic drugs facilitate communication across the brain.
The first study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin decreases brain activity localized in the ego system (also referred to as the default-mode network), diminishing the sense of one’s own personality and firm sense of self. This is also known as temporary ego dissolution.
Understanding the mechanisms in the brain that influence cognitive functions while under the influence of entheogens will offer valuable insights into how they can be psychologically useful in the future. For instance, they may be able to offer help to patients experience an emotional release, enhance creative ways of thinking, get rid of disease, ease pain, and so much more.