For the first time scientists using brain scans have seen how LSD works in the brain. The scans showed how LSD breaks down the compartmentalizing of the brain, which is how the brain activity forms to function as you grow into an adult. LSD causes the brain to become a more “integrated” or “unified” bringing the brain back to the “free and unconstrained” mode that you have as an infant.
Studying the brain on LSD was not an easy task to perform especially because of restraints put on the classified schedule 1 drug. It is considered one of the most controversial drugs in the world today. Scientists getting a glimpse into the brain of subjects who were tripping has offered some fascinating finds in this ground breaking study performed by a team from Imperial College London and the Berkley Foundation, according to MSN Health News on April 14.
Scientists watched the brain on LSD respond to music and found there could be some therapeutic benefits to this. They also reported one of the most interesting finds within the brain’s system was how it actually processes vision. The brain activity in one section becomes active as the brain processes what a person is seeing at the time, but under the influence of LSD many more areas of the brain were used. Brain activity under the influence of LSD suggested the subjects were processing visions with their eyes closed.
Study leader Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris from the Department of Medicine at Imperial said, “We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were ‘seeing with their eyes shut’ — albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world.”
Nature reports that this study was done “as part of a series of studies that are examining how the drug causes its characteristic hallucinogenic effects.” David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London suggested that ultimately, the drug LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) might be useful in therapies.
Can’t you just picture “In a gadda da vida” by Iron Butterfly playing in the background as you take an acid trip on your therapist’s couch? While that’s what baby boomers might envision, it sounds a bit more involved than just popping a tab of LSD or “acid” as it was once called on the street. Researchers feel it may be a drug with some benefits for treating mental illness.
MSN reports that as far as music and LSD, “the findings showed the combination of LSD and music altered visual cortex activity, with the region receiving more information from a brain structure called the parahippocampus. Normally involved in mental imagery and memory, higher levels of communication between the parahippocampus and the visual cortex caused people to report experiences of complex visions.”
The findings suggest that “music listening and LSD together could be a powerful therapeutic combination.” This is something suggested in the 60s when LSD was a prevalent drug. It was a drug that was thought to open your mind, as the New York Times reports in an archived article:
“Many early computer pioneers are said to have been users of LSD. Steve Jobs, Apple’s presiding genius, described his own LSD experience as “one of the two or three most important things” he has done in his life.”
While LSD is a drug associated with flash backs and sometimes disturbing hallucinations, under the right conditions, this new research suggests that this drug could have benefits when treating disorders of the mind.