What Your Brain Looks Like on LSD

April 12th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

For the first time, scientists have peered into the minds of people tripping on LSD. A new study shows how multiple regions of the brain become activated and interconnected under the influence of acid, possibly opening opportunities for further research into the use of LSD as a mental health treatment option.


The mind-blowing development comes out of Imperial College London, where researchers scanned the brains of 20 healthy volunteers who received 75 micrograms of the psychedelic drug. They used three different brain scanning techniques to look at the mental mechanisms involved in hallucinations that people experience on LSD.

"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," Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, the lead researcher, said in a press release. "We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD — even though the volunteers' eyes were closed."


The brain basically reverts to an infant-like state under LSD.

The study revealed that the brains of people on LSD received information from multiple regions of the brain — including those involved in attention, movement, and hearing — rather than just the visual cortex when it comes to visual processing. That finding is part of what led the researchers to conclude that LSD created a "more unified brain," which actually looks a lot like the brain of infants, the Guardian reports.

"Our brains become more constrained and compartmentalized as we develop from infancy into adulthood, and we may become more focused and rigid in our thinking as we mature," Dr. Carhart-Harris added. "In many ways, the brain in the LSD state resembles the state our brains were in when we were infants: free and unconstrained. This also makes sense when we consider the hyper-emotional and imaginative nature of an infant's mind."

How this could influence future research.

The scientists believe that their research could inform future studies on the effectiveness of LSD as a mental health treatment option. Previous studies have suggested that LSD could be an effective treatment option for people with depression and PTSD, as ATTN: reported.

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