Magic mushrooms create a hyperconnected brain
Tia Ghose, based on Paul Expert, King’s College London
Summary and review of the above article
A study at King’s College London, published in the Journal of the Royal Society on October 28 2014, has shown that psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms, disrupts normal connections within the brain, while allowing connection between brain regions that do not normally communicate.
Psilocybin is well known for creating hallucinations. However, subjects also report what are described as intense spiritual experiences and as one of the most profound experiences of their life. Further to this, there are indications of longer-lasting influences. Even with one experience of psilocybin, subjects were found to become more open to new experiences and curiosity, feel more emotion, and be more interested in art.
Psilocybin binds to a receptor that also binds serotonin. The drug had been thought to reduce brain activity, but research using an fMRI scan suggested that while normal connectivity was reduced, there was gamma synchrony between regions that would not normally communicate. After a time, brain connectivity returned to normal.
Such experiences with psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs appear to be a sub-set of a range of altered states of consciousness that include advanced meditation, sensory deprivation, effects of intense chanting or dancing, extreme fear and NDE. A common factor may be deactivation of some prefrontal areas allowing other inputs to come through.