Your brain on 'shrooms: fMRI elucidates neural correlates of psilocybin psychedelic state

by Stuart Mason Dambrot feature
Decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) after psilocybin imaged by fMRI. Regions where there was significantly decreased CBF after psilocybin versus after placebo are shown in blue. No CBF increases in any region were observed. Image Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1119598109

(Medical Xpress) -- Psychedelic substances have long been used for healing, ceremonial, or mind-altering subjective experiences due to compounds that, when ingested or inhaled, generate hallucinations, perceptual distortions, or altered states of awareness. Of these, the psychedelic substance psilocybin, the prodrug (a precursor of a drug that must in vivo chemical conversion by metabolic processes before becoming an active pharmacological agent) of psilocin (4-hydroxy-dimethyltryptamine) and the key hallucinogen found in so-called magic mushrooms, is widely used not only in healing ceremonies, but, more recently, in psychotherapy as well – but little has been known about its specific activity in the brain.

Recently, however, scientists in the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit at Imperial College London used complementary blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI, or fMRI, in conjunction with a technique for imaging the transition from normal waking consciousness to the psychedelic state. The study found decreased blood flow and BOLD in the thalamus, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. The researchers concluded that the surprising results strongly suggest that the subjective effects of psychedelic drugs are caused by decreased activity and connectivity in the brain’s key connector hubs, enabling a state of unconstrained cognition.

Lead researcher Dr. Robin L. Carhart-Harris, working in the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit created by Prof. David J. Nutt, recounts the team’s main challenges in establishing an fMRI methodology that would be specific enough to highly correlate neurophysiological activity with the neuronal presence or absence of psilocybin. “There were a number of considerations,” Carhart-Harris tells Medical Xpress. “In terms of experimental design, we had to determine the precise dose and delivery protocol that would be appropriate for obtaining clear fMRI results. “For example,” he explains, “we had to consider temporal dynamics: If the drug was administered orally, the protracted period of time between ingestion, metabolism, and crossing of the blood-brain barrier would fall outside of the short scanning window needed to capture induced brain activity.” They therefore had to rely on intravenous administration.

“Another issue,” Carhart-Harris adds, “was methodological – specifically, isolating any placebo effect derived from changes not due to the injection itself, such as anticipatory anxiety.” The team also had to measure physiological parameters, including breathing and heart rate, in order to use these signals as weighting factors, correlate with baseline levels and remove them as a possible explanation of any observed brain changes.

To address these challenges, Carhart-Harris points to the pilot work the team performed in order to determine the optimal dose. “The original dose was too low in our mock scanner environment, in which subjects were asked to rate regular subjective or perceptual experiences< he recalls. “However, that simply wouldn’t work in a scanning environment, since their very response would interfere with fMRI measurement.”

Regarding next steps in their research, Carhart-Harris sees obtaining a grant to study psilocybin as a treatment for depression – scheduled to begin at the end of 2012 – as key. “Psilocybin decreases brain activity in regions such as the medial prefrontal cortex,” he explains, “that are overactive in depression.” The team may also perform the same investigations with alternative psychedelic , such as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) – a synthetic, psychoactive drug, commonly known as Ecstasy, that is chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine.

Carhart-Harris is also interested in the effects of psilocybin on memory. “When subjects are in the scanner,” he illustrates, “and are shown personal memory cues, then asked to close their eyes and remember the emotions at the time of the original event, the recalled emotions are more vivid – indicating elevated brain activation – when under the effects of psilocybin.” Moreover, Carhart-Harris notes that when administered psilocybin when undergoing , there is an increased incidence of sudden personal insights. He speculates that this suggests that psilocybin-induced visual changes indicate that the visual pathways are more sensitive to signals from the hippocampus, which is involved in memory, when under psilocybin.

In addition to depression, Carhart-Harris observes, there are other research and applications that might benefit from the team’s findings. “Those suffering from cluster headaches,” he notes, “report excruciating pain that is difficult to treat, sometimes describing it as worse than the pain childbirth. During such headaches, they show an increase in hypothalamic activity to date has only been ameliorated by deep brain stimulation. However,” he concludes, “when administered psilocybin, they display a decrease in hypothalamic activity and a corresponding suspension of cluster headaches.”

More information: Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin, Published online before print January 23, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119598109, PNAS February 7, 2012 vol. 109 no. 6 2138-2143.

Related information:

Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin, Published online ahead of print January 26, 2012, doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.103309.

4.9 /5 (44 votes)

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MandoZink
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
In the 70's I had the occasion to try various psychoactives and was impressed with how they made it possible, in some abstract way, to recognize previously unseen mental processes . I learned to slow my heart rate significantly, locate tension, and totally relax. I tried to pay attention and remember whatever I state I was experiencing and I soon learned how to make a headache melt away. The most significant thing I was able to do was to somehow recognize the onset of urticaria and stop it from manifesting. I had suffered from severe bouts of urticaria from about 14 to 22 years old. I began to break out in hives one day at the onset of a LSD trip. I decided it best to put on a YES album and lay down and drift into whatever was happening. I found it in my head in some abstract way. I somehow managed to focus on the process as it was occurring and redirect it. Whatever I did worked and it completely ended the urticaria bouts I had suffered. I remain extremely impressed by psychoactives.
Zitface
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
I also remain impressed by psychoactives, but even more by legible writing. This article contains several sentence fragments that are difficult to decipher.
MandoZink
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
My apologies.(another fragment) I realized I had several more sentences to go, but I had unfortunately reached the limit of characters allowed. I had to edit several sentences, apparently to the detriment of readability. There are a lot more details which I would have like to have added, but such is the medium I am dealing with. Most of my friends at the time were med students and researchers who also had a great interest in the temporary neural alterations and the insights they may awaken. Once again, I apologize. I do like to give my best, with all clarity you deserve.
nikto
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
I am amazed by the fact that the mainstream science almost completely ignores insights gained using these compounds. For example,I'm 100% convinced that everything we see is reconstructed by the brain using a process similar to fractal generation (recursive iteration), yet there's almost no (respectable enough) mention about this anywhere. The idea makes sense, if you consider that probably the best possible image compression method is having an 'algorithm' that can re-generate it from relatively very little data. The drug seems to work either by lowering the inhibition and/or strengthening some connections, so the brain generates a full fractal shape instead of cutting-off some parts that aren't backed up by percepts. Basically, it's giving the brain more power relatively to the actual percepts.Before trashing my argument, eat some 20 liberty caps and look at anything irregular in shape.Even people who don't even know what a fractal is report shapes strikingly similar to some julias
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
For example,I'm 100% convinced that everything we see is reconstructed by the brain using a process similar to fractal generation (recursive iteration), yet there's almost no (respectable enough) mention about this anywhere.

Because it's wrong? you have no clue what 'fractal' means. banying about technical terms that you don't know how to use doesn't make you seem smart.

[q9The idea makes sense, if you consider that probably the best possible image compression method is having an 'algorithm' that can re-generate it from relatively very little data.
The brain does this, but not via fractals (which are not 'relatively little data' to something like a brain - only to a computer). The nerves coming from the eye has several layers and in each layer the nerves are connected hroizontally for exitation/inhibition. These are effectively edge detectors, rotation detectors. Various optical illusions make use of this fact.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
I have no clue how could you possibly know what is my knowledge concerning fractals, from your aggressive reaction it looks like i hit a nerve. You're talking about something you obviously don't understand, because I obviously wasn't talking about the relatively low-level process of image decomposition, but quite the opposite, the reconstruction of percepts. This certainly isn't done in the optical nerve, probably not even in the visual cortex alone, at least not without depending on other parts of the brain. Consider the way that memory or simple anticipation can distort a visual experience. Or if you ever had a lucid dream (or at least have a vivid imagination), you'll know you don't even have to have your eyes open to be able to reproduce the world as accurately as it is seen when directly perceived.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
This still has nothing to do with fractals. At all.

That the brain reconstructs scenes given relatively little information isn't a new insight.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
I'm not claiming that it is, the 'new' or better, old but overlooked thing is the idea HOW the brain reconstructs the scene. If you know something about self-organizing maps and recurrent neural networks, fractal generation isn't a big leap at all. Basically, a neural net gets an input, generates an output and a few steps forward gets a part of it's own output as input again. That looks suspiciously close to recursion in programming, calling a function in itself, which is often used to generate fractals. Also if you look at it from the evolutionary perspective, almost everything natural has in fact fractal structure, for example trees, mountain ranges, ice crystals even the brain itself, so it would be only natural for living things to adapt to such environment. It's far more effective, for example in computer graphics,it takes much less (memory) resources to store a list of vectors and parametrized curves, than storing each pixel separately.Generating fractals is just one step further
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
If you know something about self-organizing maps and recurrent neural networks

That's actally my hobby (I program this sort of thing). Frctals have nothing to do with it. Fractals are a measure of self similarity accross a dimensional scale (usually spatial scales but also temporal and/or other phase space vectors. I ürogarmmed fractal analysis methods as part of my PhD in image recogniton). The to have nothing to do with each other.

Recurrent/reentrant systems are not automatically fractal. These are two differnet concepts.
Especially in the brain where you have depolarisation effects of neurons there is no fractal nature (neither spatialy nor temporaly)

it takes much less (memory) resources to store a list of vectors and parametrized curves,

Yes. But fractals don't help there unless you have a fractal structure as a lookup table. Humans don't have that. We do information compression via associated networks.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
I never claimed it's automatically fractal, i am saying in this particular case it is. You really don't have any arguments to disprove it. I'm a programmer, i did a lot of this stuff myself. My point is, i SAW this, i know people who did too without knowing what is a fractal, i really don't see how else could a (fractal) structure like brain produce animated julia set like structures as it does. Check it yourself if you aren't afraid, then argue.
Eikka
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
My point is, i SAW this, i know people who did too without knowing what is a fractal


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is an example why you don't listen to the opinions of the test subject in a drug trial but instead trust on actual measurements and objective observation.

When you're scrambling your brain functions with some chemical, the feeling of correctness and recognition doesn't have to match to what you are actually experiencing. If you make a false association, you may recognize some hallucination you see as a fractal without actually experiencing one, and since your memory of the fact may be diminished, showing a picture of a fractal after the fact can lead to a false memory effect where the subject replaces the unclear memory with the presented facts and says "Yes, that's exactly what it looked like!"

Next time you find the answer to life and everything while on shrooms, try writing it down. See if it makes any sense when you're back to normal.

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
I'm pretty hip to neuroscinces: and what you describe
a) has nothing to do with being fractal
b) fits nowhere with how we currently think the brain works (and also none of the data that has been collected to date)

The brain LOOKS fractal from the outside (D is about 2.7) but that is not due to any fractal processing but simply due to structural constraints. The brain needs to be supplied with nutrients and parts need to be interconnected (which is what the central part mostly does) and localized processing (which is what the outer part does). This means that you have, to a good approximation, a surface AREA supported on connection/supply columns. To increase area (and thereby brainpower) it is better to have it folded than to have a globular brain with a smooth surface. A fractal folding gives you more area.
That's all there is to it.
ron1234567890
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
this is a remarkable confirmation of Huxley's 'cerebral reducing valve' speculation about psychedelics
thomowen20
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
Those of you that think this is compelling should try DMT.
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2012
"Recurrent/reentrant systems are not automatically fractal. These are two differnet concepts.
Especially in the brain where you have depolarisation effects of neurons there is no fractal nature (neither spatialy nor temporaly)"

Your implied interpretation of the hard body problem that I quoted above, undermines the entirety of your "erudite deconstruction" of the person you are picking an argument with. That statement of yours, while correct and established empirically, is basically referring to the operant analogue of underlying of qualia/continued operations. To clarify, ask yourself this simple question: In what way do the electrical exchanges in circuits reflect the nature of the algorithms and input/output cycles, AND vice versa?
Understanding that it is theoretically possible to precisely and accurately delineate this reflection of states, can you generalize for all types means of information processing, including the brain?
nikto
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
to Eikka:
it wasn't memory, i recognized the structure immediately, the thinking was done afterwards
to antialias: i wasn't talking about the actual brain structure, that was just one of the examples of fractal or fractal-like structure (because we probably don't live in a mathematically perfect, infinite world)
what i meant is your mental model of things around you, your inner experience, is reconstructed / generated using feedback in a very similar way to some recursive fractal generation in computer programs. It doesn't take much effort to construct a simple neural network which outputs will be fractal in nature, everything is there, higher hausdorff dimension, self-similarity etc. Besides, if i have to repeat myself, i saw with my own eyes(brain) how the animated julia-like fractals try to match and flow from any irregular structure that i saw. I was more awake than I am normally, i wouldn't say my thinking was impaired the least, i would say the opposite
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
In what way do the electrical exchanges in circuits reflect the nature of the algorithms and input/output cycles, AND vice versa?

Why should they reflect algorithms? They're not algorithms.

If you want to model them then adaptive feedback loops with a hysteresis on the reentrant gates is the closest you can get. But a lot of factors play into how neurons react - not just the sum over excitation/inhibition potentials:
- hormones
- availability of nutrients
- even such thing as local pressure on neurons due to pulsation of blood vessels
- etc.

what i meant is your mental model of things around you, your inner experience, is reconstructed / generated using feedback in a very similar way to some recursive fractal generation in computer programs.

Feedback: Yes
Fractal: No.
higher hausdorff dimension, self-similarity etc.

Don't play stupid with me. These are the same things. Throwing around tech terms doesn't make your position any more correct.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
The funny thing is, that's exactly what you are doing all the time. First you try to insult me or undermine my argument by telling me that i don't know what a fractal is, you yourself mention self similarity, then a few posts later you accuse and criticize me for supposedly doing the same thing you're doing from the start. You don't attack the general idea, you mostly just play with words, your arguments have no substance. I would say you really don't have a clue what i'm trying to say. For the last time: i'm not talking about the physical strucutre of the world, but that the process of construction of mental imagery is similar or basically the same (after abstracting some {to the processing itself} unnecessary details you were mentioning like for example membrane voltage, neurotransmitter flow etc.). What is most important is the process, not the machinery. I would say your main problem with my opinion is the way I acquired it and you're trying to disprove because it's 'unscientific'
MandoZink
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
to "Zitface"
I just re-read your comment and realized you were criticizing the article writer and not my comment. I am still sorry that the brevity limits of comment threads do not allow for deeper discussions, especially on this particular subject. Trying to explain the merits of one's personal psychedelics experience is difficult, and I suspect can only be remotely understood by others who have been there. I find it hard to believe that any understanding of the neurological/biological effects of psychoactives can ever put the personal experience into perspective. They have rendered me permanently in awe of the universe and my conscious perception of it.

nikto
I have experienced multitudes of patterns during my psychedelic experiences, which can include fractal impressions from memories. However, I am quite sure the neurons that are firing away are not fractally organized. Just as the digits in fractal equations aren't laid out in fractal patterns, they plot out into the patterns.
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
Everyone needs to re-read Nikto's comments. He does not categorically state, in anywise, that the brain is structurally, algorithmically, definitively, or qualia-wise fractal:

"For example, I'm 100% convinced that everything we see is reconstructed by the brain using a process SIMILAR to fractal generation (recursive iteration)..."

@Antialiasphysorg: Have you considered my thought experiment in which you are enjoined to map the phenomenological goings on in the brain to neumonological qualia events? Did you get hung up on my arguably inappropriate usage of the word "algorithm", instead?

If slipshod usage is to be assigned to me, it is in asking you to MODEL the two parallel occurances without suggesting the motive of the exercise; to rule out any fractal(like) processes or generations. The exercise, I admit, is open-ended to me as well.
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
@Antialiasphysorg: Having reread the exchanges myself, I have no motive, other than academic, to peruse the question of fractals with the brain, so precisely.

It seems in the mad rush to disagree and argue that you and Nikto failed to locate a true dis-agreement. For instance...

"A fractal folding gives you more area.
That's all there is to it."

and...

"The brain LOOKS fractal from the outside (D is about 2.7) but that is not due to any fractal processing but simply due to structural constraints."

If I had to admit to any sense of confusion between the two of you, it would be over the fact that fractals, though not amenable to generation or description by differential operators/funct, can be defined by their boundaries using other types of functions. This is only dealing structurally and doesn't even touch subjective reconstructive methods not yet fully understood by today's science.

No hard feelings Alias, I hope. I enjoy the breadth and insight of your comments on this portal
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Antialiasphysorg: Have you considered my thought experiment in which you are enjoined to map the phenomenological goings on in the brain to neumonological qualia events?

Since I program neural networks: yes.

But still no use for fractals in sight. The brain works via neurons (and glia and hormones and a host of other effects). The interactions are at that level - not on higher levels). Resultant behavior of th output layer is an emergent process
There's no point in implementing macroscopic/scale invariant entities, anywhere.

The brain can give you impressions of all kinds of experiences - this does NOT mean that the brain is organized on the basis of what these experiences look like.

trying to disprove because it's 'unscientific'

I'm trying to tell you that before you make up a theory (and claim everybody has overlooked your 'genius' insight so far) you should do some research and see whether the theory fits with...ANYTHING.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
You're wrong again. It looks like you just skim through what the other people write, catch a word here and there and create your own associations from the partial. For the last time, i'm talking about the mid-level to higher level stuff, not quantum physics, not electrochemistry, not even individual cells. What i was saying is, the (re)construction of mental imagery is done by a process very similar to fractal generation.

fact:
the mind is capable of generating fractal imagery without ever seeing them, repeating the same pattern over and over is very effective

fact:
there is recurrence the visual cortex as well as in most other cortical areas

fact:
you can generate some fractals by applying recursion

fact:
what you perceive is altered by your knowledge/predispositions/anticipation

my reasoning: if i can see fractals, there has to be a mechanism to generate them, there has to be a reason that it's possible to generate them so accurately.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
the mind is capable of generating fractal imagery without ever seeing them, repeating the same pattern over and over is very effective

'The same pattern' is not what fractal means. Please look up the word 'fractal' before using it ever again.

there is recurrence the visual cortex

Recurrence/reentry is not fractal. Different concepts.

you can generate some fractals by applying recursion

Fractals are TINY SUBSET of what recursion/feeback algoithms can generate - under very specific conditions.

what you perceive is altered by your knowledge/predispositions/anticipation

What has that got to do with anything? This is non-linearity. Not fractals (and not even recursion).

if i can see fractals, there has to be a mechanism to generate them

If you can see squares then there has to be some mechanism to generate them. Therefore your brain is structured like squares. See how such 'logic' makes no sense, whatsoever?
nikto
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Please reread everything i wrote, i never said what you claim i did, you imagine what clearly isn't there, as others have noted as well.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Read the first sentence of your first post. You claim science has 'ignored' your trip fantasies and that these 'insights' are 100% real.

If you think that that type of stoner-talk is 'insightful' then science is not for you.
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
Here is an example of how the question I gave you can be entertained. Say you used a simple fractal generating formula; the Mandlebrot set. Even, though VERY difficult it is theoretcally possible for someone to run the formula in their head for the firrst few iterations and visualize the results. While the fidelity of such an operation may be impperfect, depending upon the powers of that persons visualization and calculating skills, ask whether the structural and processing analogues in the brain are anymore fractal like than a computer chip that does the same thin with perfect fidelity (up to the terminal iteration).

Now as we keep saying, it doesn't even have to allow for a precise match in the HUMAN BRAIN as Niktto allows for mere SIMILARITY to fractals, as you BOTH so rightly put it are a small subset of recursive operations... BUT whether fractal or no please appreciate the fact that we are NOT JUST DEALING WITH THE STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN, but the QUALIA, cont...
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
(or output in the case of a compputer running the iterations) If you haven't already done so, PLEASE give a look at the hard problem of. consciousness and how it may bear on this subject. Don't look at this question just on what the brain does but how it does, its structure, process, qualia and output; ALL of these things together should be considered. You will gain an appreciation for how very open, deep and complex this matter could be. Sorry for the errors in these posts, but I am in a hurry.

As I said before Alias, minor disagreements aside, I appreciate your usual erudition and breadth of understanding. You help keep my juices flowing in an otherwise humdrum day-to-day...
neiorah
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
It is amazing what becomes clear when you take shrooms. I remember I was at work and my boyfriend came in. For the first time, I could see who he was without any of the emotional baggage that usually comes along with it. It was like my logical self was in charge and did not let the emotional aspect of myself interfere with my perceptions of reality. I now have proof that this is an effect of the mushrooms I took and it happened to someone else besides myself. KOOL !
neiorah
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
It is amazing what becomes clear when you take shrooms. I remember I was at work and my boyfriend came in. For the first time, I could see who he was without any of the emotional baggage that usually comes along with it. It was like my logical self was in charge and did not let the emotional aspect of myself interfere with my perceptions of reality. I now have proof that this is an effect of the mushrooms I took and it happened to someone else besides myself. KOOL !
neiorah
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
It is amazing what becomes clear when you take shrooms. I remember I was at work and my boyfriend came in. For the first time, I could see who he was without any of the emotional baggage that usually comes along with it. It was like my logical self was in charge and did not let the emotional aspect of myself interfere with my perceptions of reality. I now have proof that this is an effect of the mushrooms I took and it happened to someone else besides myself. KOOL !

You other people, QUIT ARGUING !!!!!!
smd
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Zitface wrote,

"I also remain impressed by psychoactives, but even more by legible writing. This article contains several sentence fragments that are difficult to decipher."

Perhaps you could point these out rather than just making an accusation.
nikto
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
at least thomowen20 understands. I would say most arguments between people are caused by misunderstanding on one or both sides. It's easier to try to disprove someone, if you take everything he said literally and try to find inconsistencies (caused by imperfect or different understanding of some words / concepts) in your own picture than forget your ego for a while and try to really understand what could really have been meant. I know what i'm talking about, i did a lot of arguing myself. Though many times i have been correct from my point of view, I often later found out that my opponent was talking about something else that i've thought, so in a sense we have both been right. Also, there are different perspectives on a same thing that don't exclude each other. I don't disagree with most of what you wrote, but it's really frustrating seeing how you're talking about something different without even realizing it. Try to think more about what others say, it makes the life better.
thomowen20
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2012
@Antialiasphysorg: "Resultant behavior of th output layer is an emergent process
There's no point in implementing macroscopic/scale invariant entities, anywhere."

Oh ok you have the bases covered then for a good inquiry into all aspects. BTW, whatever it is you do for a living, I envy you, LOL!

@Nikto: Looking at emergent properties are important, a part of the whole as you all of us seem to suggest.

Good! All agreed :)
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2012
it wasn't memory, i recognized the structure immediately, the thinking was done afterwards


Or you thought you recognized it, the drug caused a feeling of false recognition, like "Of course! Beans are cheese!" and then you thought of the memory of recognition afterwards, and because it didn't make any sense you reasoned that you must have seen a fractal.

A rose by another name...
chthonic
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
TO say that these substances of abuse are used in "psychotherapy" is to take establishment psychotherapy, which aspires to the best of humanistic values, and drag it through junkie vomit. It's egregiously apparent Mr. Dambrot doesn't know a goddam thing about psychotherapy.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 05, 2012
give a look at the hard problem of. consciousness and how it may bear on this subject.

Consciousness is, as yet, an unsolved problem.
My (completely unfounded) theory to this is that it emerges with the complexity of the system (i.e. that there is no such thing as conscious humans vs unconscious animals). Consciousness is then merely the ability of being able to act on internalised thoughts (neural states) in a continuous feedback loop.
As yet I haven't seen anyone show the existence of a 'consciousness gland' or some physical representation of 'soul'. so I'm just assuming that what goes on in our heads (neurons firing at each other) is enough.

In that sense qualia are no more important than knowing about waves when simulating water. You just need to know about water and air molecules. Waves just emerge from that system without any additional knowledg input.
MandoZink
not rated yet Mar 05, 2012
chthlonic
I became aware of MDMA after a 1985 Newsweek article (April 15, pg.96) in which it received glowing praise from multiple psychiatrists and even a Benedictine monk. The article did reflect the fear that this drug, now called Ecstasy, might be doomed by its migration into the street drug scene. Sure enough, that happened. I did have the chance to try it on one occasion 20 years ago, before it was unfortunately demonized and made illegal. It was obvious to those who tried it that it's breakthrough potential was stunning. It will eventually become one of the most helpful pharmacological tools available once we get it put in proper perspective. I will not try to convince you any further of that, as you cannot be convinced unless you tried it yourself. There is an night/day difference between drugs that help to blot out reality, and those that enhance reality, especially when allowing you to gain personal insight in the unique way that MDMA does.
smd
not rated yet Mar 06, 2012
TO say that these substances of abuse are used in "psychotherapy" is to take establishment psychotherapy, which aspires to the best of humanistic values, and drag it through junkie vomit. It's egregiously apparent Mr. Dambrot doesn't know a goddam thing about psychotherapy.


Except, of course, that the material about psychotherapy is (1) taken from the researcher's papers listed at the end of the article - and is clearly in the second paper's title; and (2) presented as quotations (that's what the " marks signify, in case you missed that bit in grade school) from the researcher, obtained via a written interview (i.e., no misinterpretations). Moreover, the researcher reviewed and approved the draft as published. It is, therefore, egregiously apparent that you only read the lead paragraph, or read (stared at?) but understood nothing about the article or papers.

Thanks for reminding us about the dire state of education and critical thinking.
TheSpiceIsLife
not rated yet Mar 10, 2012
"the definition of fractal goes beyond self-similarity per se to exclude trivial self-similarity and include the idea of a detailed pattern repeating itself" - from the wikipedia article.

antialias, I agree: consciousness is an emergent property of complex systems. It seems plausible to me that when we are able to build neural networks (or simulate them using digital hardware) of sufficient complexity, the result may very well be consciousness.

How did I come to this realisation? I saw it on LSD.

Everything is an emergent property of some other, less complex, system.

That, for me, is *the* 'fractal' nature of 'reality'.

And what happens when the emergent property called 'consciousness' is able to manipulate those less complex systems whence it emerges? 'tis an interesting line of thought, I think.

It seems odd to me that a fungus, and some plants can produce molecules so similar to serotonin, and that those molecules have such a massive impact on our experience of reality

TheSpiceIsLife
not rated yet Mar 10, 2012
What do the fungi (in the case of psilocybin / Psilocybin) and the plants (DMT) do with these molecules? What purpose does caffeine serve in the plants that produce it?

I think they're all worth studying extensively, by virtue of the fact they exist.

@ chthonic "TO say that these substances of abuse are used in "psychotherapy" ... Substances of abuse? I suggest you try psychedelics before you judge them so harshly, it's certainly not the kind of experience you immediately want more of, more like something you'd like to try again at some point in the future. Definitely not addictive.

Perhaps you mean they are bad drugs because they aren't taxed. All the *good* drugs, all the socially acceptable drugs, like alcohol and caffeine, they're taxed, so they're okay, right?
chthonic
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
@smd: Giving substances of abuse as a form of therapeutics is not the standard of care _anywhere_ -- your niggling attacks about my inability to think critically and being a failure of education notwithstanding. I'm about to graduate from the 28th grade after all :-P
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
How did I come to this realisation? I saw it on LSD.

Then you wasted some LSD, I'd say. It'sd not that hard a realisation that yopu need mind altering drugs for that. Once you learn in first grade that (meaningless) letters can make up (meaningful) novel you're already there.

That, for me, is *the* 'fractal' nature of 'reality'.

It's nice of you to make up words or redefine old ones to have new meanings. But I banana space shuttle chair dingbat. Correct?

If you mean 'composite' then use the word composite. Not fractal. The word fractal has a different meaning.
Sacrelicious
not rated yet Mar 12, 2012
chthonic: "Giving substances of abuse as a form of therapeutics is not the standard of care _anywhere_ -- your niggling attacks about my inability to think critically and being a failure of education notwithstanding."

"Drugs of abuse?" What the hell does that mean? Any drug that's in any way interesting is a "drug of abuse" and the only reason why psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, Salvia divinorum, Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, mescaline and no doubt several others are not routinely being used in therapy settings in the U.S. is due to a combination of inane factors such as reactionary fear spawned by ignorance, vested interests in only developing patentable (and therefore profitable) drugs, and what seems to me to be a bit of crusty Puritan residue still stuck to the culture that demonizes almost anything pleasurable that someone wants to do even if it in no way harms other people or property (and inspires the associated unexamined guilt that often comes after having some fun).
Sacrelicious
not rated yet Mar 12, 2012
Oh, and you could also characterize psychotherapy as a "drug of abuse" that can be addicting (unlike psychedelics) and mess up someone's life as much as any bad hallucinogenic drug experience can, not to mention psychotherapy's potential to be misused (which can really mess up someone's mind). Hmm, I guess it means psychotherapy or psilocybin or assault rifles are tools that can be used for both good and evil, so the very concept of "a drug of abuse" is patently absurd; people do abuse some drugs more than others, but that's not an inherent property of any drug.

There's still time to unclench and see what all the fuss is about. You might be surprised to find that you really had no idea what you were talking about regarding this class of drug. Actually, if you do explore then you WILL be surprised, and that's the understatement of the century...