First evidence for higher state of consciousness found

April 19, 2017
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Scientific evidence of a 'higher' state of consciousness has been found in a study led by the University of Sussex.

Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity - a measure of the complexity of brain activity - of people under the influence of , compared with when they were in a normal waking state.

The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep.

This, however, is the first study to show brain-signal diversity that is higher than baseline, that is higher than in someone who is simply 'awake and aware'. Previous studies have tended to focus on lowered states of consciousness, such as sleep, anaesthesia, or the so-called 'vegetative' state.

The team say that more research is needed using more sophisticated and varied models to confirm the results but they are cautiously excited.

Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex, said: "This finding shows that the brain-on-psychedelics behaves very differently from normal.  

"During the psychedelic state, the electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less 'integrated' than during normal conscious wakefulness - as measured by 'global signal diversity'.  

"Since this measure has already shown its value as a measure of 'conscious level', we can say that the psychedelic state appears as a higher 'level' of consciousness than normal - but only with respect to this specific mathematical measure."

For the study, Michael Schartner, Adam Barrett and Professor Seth of the Sackler Centre reanalysed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD.

Using brain imaging technology, they measured the tiny magnetic fields produced in the brain and found that, across all three drugs, this measure of conscious level - the neural signal diversity - was reliably higher.

This does not mean that the psychedelic state is a 'better' or more desirable state of consciousness, the researchers stress; instead, it shows that the psychedelic brain state is distinctive and can be related to other global changes in conscious level (e.g. sleep, anaesthesia) by application of a simple mathematical measure of signal diversity. Dr Muthukumaraswamy who was involved in all three initial studies commented: "That similar changes in signal diversity were found for all three drugs, despite their quite different pharmacology, is both very striking and also reassuring that the results are robust and repeatable."

The findings could help inform discussions gathering momentum about the carefully-controlled medical use of such drugs, for example in treating severe depression.

Dr Robin Cahart-Harris of Imperial College London said: "Rigorous research into psychedelics is gaining increasing attention, not least because of the therapeutic potential that these drugs may have when used sensibly and under medical supervision.  

"The present study's findings help us understand what happens in people's brains when they experience an expansion of their under psychedelics. People often say they experience insight under these drugs - and when this occurs in a therapeutic context, it can predict positive outcomes. The present findings may help us understand how this can happen."

As well as helping to inform possible medical applications, the study adds to a growing scientific understanding of how conscious level (how conscious one is) and conscious content (what one is conscious of) are related to each other.

Professor Seth said: "We found correlations between the intensity of the psychedelic experience, as reported by volunteers, and changes in signal diversity. This suggests that our measure has close links not only to global brain changes induced by the drugs, but to those aspects of brain dynamics that underlie specific aspects of conscious experience."  

The research team are now working hard to identify how specific changes in information flow in the underlie specific aspects of psychedelic experience, like hallucinations.

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

In a striking coincidence, the release date of this paper (19th April, 2017) comes precisely 74 years to-the-day after Albert Hoffman - who first synthesized LSD in 1938 - conducted his first 'self-experiment' to discover its psychological effects.  This date, 19th April 1943, is widely known as 'bicycle day' in honour of Hoffman's bicycle ride home following this first LSD trip.

Explore further: How does brain functional connectivity change from the awake to unconscious state?

More information: Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/srep46421

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manfredparticleboard
4.4 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2017
Give therapeutic doses to leaders, law makers and bureaucrats; as well as conservative, morally superior types. Then there might be the prospect of a higher state of civilization.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2017
Well since there is no such thing as consciousness I guess you can attach any adjective you want to it. Its like attaching 'immortal' to 'soul' and thinking youre engaging in rational discourse.

Its like scientists using the word 'mind' with a straight face.
somefingguy
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2017
Well since there is no such thing as consciousness I guess you can attach any adjective you want to it. Its like attaching 'immortal' to 'soul' and thinking youre engaging in rational discourse.

Its like scientists using the word 'mind' with a straight face.


It's amazing how much time you have on your hands to just shit-post. I see your dumb comments on half the articles I read; either about some arbitrary quote regarding psychopaths, or some pseudo-bullshit that you think is insightful just because it goes against what the article tried to bring across.
Surely you have a better way to spend your time. Perhaps pick up a book or two.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 19, 2017
Well since there is no such thing as consciousness I guess you can attach any adjective you want to it. Its like attaching 'immortal' to 'soul' and thinking youre engaging in rational discourse.

Its like scientists using the word 'mind' with a straight face.


It's amazing how much time you have on your hands to just shit-post. I see your dumb comments on half the articles I read; either about some arbitrary quote regarding psychopaths, or some pseudo-bullshit that you think is insightful just because it goes against what the article tried to bring across.
Surely you have a better way to spend your time. Perhaps pick up a book or two.
Ive got to ask - what makes you think I give a shit what you think?

You might want to do a little research and find out that many scientists think consciousness is an illusion. Or you can stay stupid and petulant.
somefingguy
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2017
"Some people think that a phenomenon we have observed, to certain degrees in all organic life on this planet, doesn't actually exist; anyone who doesn't belong to this tiny group of people is ignorant"

Riiiiiight. An even smaller group of people think that the Earth is hollow and Hitler tried to recruit its inhabitants, mole-people, in WWII; guess I have to believe that as well.
Gotta love the irony when you call people stupid.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2017
I can agree with this article, having experienced first hand the way LSD changes the way my brain works. It brought about a sense of euphoria, where I could imagine more possibilities. It also gave me a sense of understanding of how bizarre the world is. I looked at it completely objectively for the first time, as in, I did not assume anything. Why were these pink beings riding in metal bubbles on rock rivers (people riding in a cars, going down the street). Why are we stuck on this giant ball, floating in blackness, with other balls at great distances (Earth, space, etc).

I appreciate that they are studying the effects on the connections in the brain with these drugs, because it does make the brain operate in a different way, which may be useful.

While I will not say that the drug LSD is beneficial or healthy, I can say that it did "expand my mind", as in, the way of thinking I experienced while on the drug is something that is still present, years later. I only did it once.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2017
"Some people think that a phenomenon we have observed, to certain degrees in all organic life on this planet, doesn't actually exist; anyone who doesn't belong to this tiny group of people is ignorant"
Sorry this doesnt google. Did you make it up yourself?

Ever watch tv? This link is like tv only no commercials. And dr dennett is far from ignorant.
https://www.ted.c...iousness

BTW your 'quote' is exactly what people have always said to justify the existence of the soul.

'Its self-evident you know.'

You think the soul is self-evident?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2017
I can agree with this article, having experienced first hand the way LSD changes the way my brain works. It brought about a sense of euphoria, where I could imagine more possibilities. It also gave me a sense of understanding of how bizarre the world is. I looked at it completely objectively for the first time, as in, I did not assume anything. Why were these pink beings riding in metal bubbles on rock rivers (people riding in a cars, going down the street). Why are we stuck on this giant ball, floating in blackness, with other balls at great distances (Earth, space, etc).
-Or maybe you were just hallucinating. Hallucinations arent real even though they can be very convincing. Millions report convictions similar to yours from an epiphany, and thats certainly not something real because any religion can evoke it.

So what makes you think you can tell the difference between hallucination and reality? Objectively speaking that is?
odd_mushroom
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2017
-Or maybe you were just hallucinating. Hallucinations arent real even though they can be very convincing. Millions report convictions similar to yours from an epiphany, and thats certainly not something real because any religion can evoke it.

So what makes you think you can tell the difference between hallucination and reality? Objectively speaking that is?


Have you ever had a psychedelic experience? I find that most people who resort to this flimsy reasoning quite literally do not know what they are talking about in an experiential sense. Dennet drones such as yourself are ironically guilty of the very same intellectual ignorance that you seem eager to accuse others of. If you are interested in consciousness as a phenomenon, regardless of whether or not you believe it exists, The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers is a good jumping off point.

As for the article, it's nice 'scientific confirmation' of something that many have known for thousands of years!
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2017
Well, Otto, I can say that I did not hallucinate, as I did not see anything that was not verified by others? Kind of like how you know you are not hallucinating now? Kind of a philosophical question don't you think?

But the statement that it can "change the way you think" is at the heart of the matter, and I was just expressing my experience with that. If you haven't done it yourself, then its like explaining sex to you, or the birth of your child. Without you experiencing it, no words can make up for the experience.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2017
ever had a psychedelic experience? I find that most people who resort to this flimsy reasoning quite literally do not know what they are talking about in an experiential sense
Why yes. Yes I have. I hallucinated.
If you are interested in consciousness as a phenomenon, regardless of whether or not you believe it exists, The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers
I see chalmers defines consciousness as 'a movie' with orgasms.

So define consciousness in a way that is accepted by everyone. And assign to it phenomena that are describable scientifically.

Too hard? Lets start with the mind. Cant have the former without the latter. What is the mind? Does it have any properties or functions that cant be described in terms of the brain?
Kind of a philosophical question don't you think?
Absolutely not.
Without you experiencing it, no words can make up for the experience
Sorry but thats rubbish. There is nothing about us or the world that not physical.

Nothing.
Vidyaguy
not rated yet Apr 19, 2017
The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness."

Nonsense. The significance of the findings are, much more accurately, stated later in the article:

"Professor Seth said: "We found correlations between the intensity of the psychedelic experience, as reported by volunteers, and changes in signal diversity. This suggests that our measure has close links not only to global brain changes induced by the drugs, but to those aspects of brain dynamics that underlie specific aspects of conscious experience."

The two statements are not equivalent by any stretch of the imagination (unless you are tripping).


Read more at: https://medicalxp...html#jCp
SKULLTRAP
Apr 19, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
manfredparticleboard
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2017
Sorry but thats rubbish. There is nothing about us or the world that not physical.

Nothing.

Sorry, but that is really rubbish. How about Insight, Perception or Understanding. We know and understand what we mean if someone is said to have an amazing insight to a problem as a description for an ability that others don't possess. We both have brains and despite being able to use something that vaguely measures a quantitative aspect such as intellect, the qualitative is off limits to metrics. It's not supernatural if that's what you meant, it is still an aspect of a physical object and it's functions. The psychotropics are a rich toolbox to gain access to the more ineffable aspects of the mind.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2017
amazing insight to a problem
-as opposed to average insight or mundane insight. A bit of self-reflection no doubt.

Perhaps you would find it more rewarding discussing this on one of the many voodoo sites on the internet? Try deepak chopra.
ineffable aspects of the mind
-Ever bother to look up the meaning of this word haha this one actually has a definition.
manfredparticleboard
not rated yet Apr 19, 2017
English has a funny way of using a word to describe something but the antonym often doesn't occur. 'He's a gormless individual with little redeeming features' can be used but no one uses gorm. No one tends to try and express the quality of insight unless there is a lack of it or a superior use of it. If you can't be aware of the semantics of words then you might want to find a simpler site to hang around.
Pooua
not rated yet Apr 19, 2017
I'm wondering how orderly these complex patterns are? Increasing complexity could just be the mind going chaotic, losing regulation and control.

I'm also wondering what the association is between psychedelics and cancer.
qitana
not rated yet Apr 19, 2017
Once I met Daniel Dennett, I asked him if he really believed that consciousness did not exist. He said to me:"Probably, we have no scientific reason to assume it does." Then I said to him: "What about a car?" And he replied: "We have no scientific reason to assume cars exist either. The recognition of 'cars' is just something that happens in our brains." I said:"What about an elephant?" He said: "Same thing." I asked him while slightly panicking already: "But then... what about you?" He told me:" Well, clearly I do not exist." And then I felt some relief. I said to him:"Well, if you don't exist, then at least I don't have to worry too much about all the things I just heard." :o)
DonGateley
not rated yet Apr 19, 2017
Well since there is no such thing as consciousness I guess you can attach any adjective you want to it. Its like attaching 'immortal' to 'soul' and thinking youre engaging in rational discourse.

Its like scientists using the word 'mind' with a straight face.


I think "consciousness" of some order exists and can be compared among a large number of complex creatures. It can be and has been defined purely operationally as an emergent property of neuron networks of sufficient complexity. It's as ephemeral as a phenomenon can get and sets the boundary of subjectiveness itself..

I just wonder whether you agree with Descarte on the fundamental postulate "I think therefor I am." Just what is it that "am" implies that can't be called consciousness or mind.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2017
Once I met Daniel Dennett, I asked him if he really believed that consciousness did not exist. He said to me:"Probably, we have no scientific reason to assume it does." Then I said to him: "What about a car?"
Once I met god, I asked him why people like to make up all sorts of nonsense for no good reason. He said to me:"Deception is a survival strategy but in you humans it has become a sickness and so I might have to be flushing the world once again. Because it is not very entertaining."

So I asked him if he could just flush the philos and other religious types and the world would be good enough then, and he said he would consider it.

This would of course include 'scientists' who continue to use idiot words like 'consciousness' to imply they are doing valuable work when we know they arent.

Thats why when I met the scientists in the above article I asked them:"How long can you tread water?" but they werent aware of the cultural reference too bad for them.
idjyit
not rated yet Apr 20, 2017
I know for a fact that spiritual conversations between people are a reality.

I've also battled kidney disease my entire life, and can personally give testament to the fact that potassium is a major trigger of the "ability".

It has nothing to do with IQ, it obviously doesn't use RF so it must be on a quantum or smaller particle field level.

I've had real time conversations with people on the other side of the planet.
A certain person presenting a sporting almanac to someone comes to mind as an example.

I've said this before and know it to be true, no amount of disparaging remarks will change my real life observations, there are so many I've lost count of them all.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
"Sorry but thats rubbish. There is nothing about us or the world that not physical.

Nothing.


This article is showing physical evidence for a persons experience, as stated here:

"We found correlations between the intensity of the psychedelic experience, as reported by volunteers, and changes in signal diversity"

So if all things are physically represented, we just need really precise data about the physical phenomenon that attribute to these concepts such as "mind".

I just think of it as an emergent property, something that exists because the criteria are met for it to exist. Thoughts are real, represented as specific combinations of neurons firing in complex patterns in the brain.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
I just think of it as an emergent property
You can think of it as a property, and then attach some undefinable philo word to it, so as to help you pretend that its something real.

Knock yourself out (seriously - dreams are higher states of emergent consciousness even when unconscious so you may learn something, or even unlearn something)
qitana
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
But Otto, does a car exist or not?
if you'd say it doesn't, I might understand what you mean when you say that consciousness does not exist. But if you say a car does exist, then, because we can't prove scientifically that cars exist, then consciousness might fall into the same category. As something composite. Like a car. It might just be harder to explain what consciousness is because it's harder to see the components of what would constitute it. If so, I do understand what you mean when you say that scientists are looking for something that might not exist. Though perhaps you'd agree that consciousness is still a practical term to use, just like a car is.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
Lots of evidence for cars. None for consciousness. Equating them is inane.

Inane.

Even when delivered with a su·per·cil·i·ous attitude.

This sort of deception is a mating strategy, an attempt to establish dominance. "I know something you dont know." "I understand something that you dont have the capacity to understand."

And while the opponent is trying to prove that that something doesnt exist, the perp gets the girl.

Old men invented this to gain advantage over young warriors and maintain their place around the campfire. They soon started wearing robes and calling themselves priests and politicians, and found that it was easier to send these young braves off to war rather than deal with them at all.

Obviously, your attitude can be very profitable indeed.
qitana
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
Well Otto, perhaps you make an objectification of someone you don't know and while doing so you subvert your own reason and make a joke out of it because you feel eager to share something irrelevant that's important to you because you relate yourself to someone who's dominant, while you're not.

But seriously, I just remembered Julian Jaynes interpretation of consciousness. It's the perception of our perception, according to him. And that's something we do do. We perceive. But if there was no perception of our perception, there would be no consciousness. And I think we can perceive this by imagining it. But we can perceive our own perception. Not all the time. But we do it sometimes. A higher state of consciousness would then imply that we would perceive more of our own perception.

I was trying to understand you. I made a joke before. But in my last comment, I was willing to try to understand you. Not only that, I was trying to give some validity of your thoughts to others and I
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
But seriously, I just remembered Julian Jaynes interpretation of consciousness. It's the perception of our perception, according to him. And that's something we do do. We perceive. But if there was no perception of our perception, there would be no consciousness. And I think we can perceive this by imagining it. But we can perceive our own perception. Not all the time. But we do it sometimes. A higher state of consciousness would then imply that we would perceive more of our own perception
Bla?
qitana
not rated yet Apr 20, 2017
Jaynes just seemed to have pointed out that if we were unable to reflect upon things, there would be nothing that people would tend to regard as consciousness. But this doesn't prove there is consciousness. It seems very hard to find consciousness by doing science. Cause if consciousness would exist and scientists would have measured its properties, how would they be able to know they would have? But if so, how can we then say that consciousness does not exist when scientists have not discovered it? So I guess I do disagree with you. Dennett said that the magic of consciousness is that there is no magic. I agree. But perception seems to be part of it. And although there should be no magic about perception either, we don't understand it, for as far as I know.
qitana
not rated yet Apr 20, 2017
I mean, if photons hit your retina to be transformed into nerve impulses moving towards the brain, leading to an activation of neurons in your brain. With the pattern of that activation corresponding to an image, then how do you see the image? How do you see?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
It seems very hard to find consciousness by doing science
-Because science depends on evidence.
Cause if consciousness would exist and scientists would have measured its properties, how would they be able to know they would have? But if so, how can we then say that consciousness does not exist when scientists have not discovered it?
Discover it? You cant even describe what it is. Nobody can.

People describe it in exactly the same terms as they do the soul. Its only preferable because of the lack of religious connotations and the implication of scientific ones.

But its just another expression of peoples desperate desire to have SOMETHING of themselves that can survive death. Religion originally made this evil promise and people have a very hard time letting go of it.

This is the only reason that the notion persists.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2017
I mean, if photons hit your retina to be transformed into nerve impulses moving towards the brain, leading to an activation of neurons in your brain. With the pattern of that activation corresponding to an image, then how do you see the image? How do you see?
This shit is no longer even funny.
https://youtu.be/X8aWBcPVPMo
qitana
not rated yet Apr 20, 2017
Well, I seriously doubt that there is that kind of consciousness that can survive. I also don't believe it's all over the universe. Not that I know it's not. It seems implausible. You have a point.
EnsignFlandry
not rated yet Apr 24, 2017
No one seems able to define consciousness using words. But so what? I'm rather sure I'm conscious; something is typing words that appear here, and if I stub my toe I'm darn well conscious of it. I've also run across people who seem like philosophical zombies. They speak and move and act, but their doesn't seem to be much going on inside. I would like to experience this "higher" consciousness. Oh,oh. Some people here said there is no such thing as consciousness. Here I go.....
EnsignFlandry
not rated yet Apr 24, 2017
Lots of evidence for cars. None for consciousness. Equating them is inane.

Inane.

Even when delivered with a su·per·cil·i·ous attitude.

This sort of deception is a mating strategy, an attempt to establish dominance. "I know something you dont know." "I understand something that you dont have the capacity to understand."

And while the opponent is trying to prove that that something doesnt exist, the perp gets the girl.

Old men invented this to gain advantage over young warriors and maintain their place around the campfire. They soon started wearing robes and calling themselves priests and politicians, and found that it was easier to send these young braves off to war rather than deal with them at all.

Obviously, your attitude can be very profitable indeed.


How do you know cars exist? You've never done a scientific study of them. You are conscious of them, through one or more of your senses.
Dziaugsmas
not rated yet Apr 25, 2017
Jeez, people, have you never heard about not feeding a troll ?
Mazarin07
not rated yet Apr 28, 2017
It is sad to see that researchers get money for useless studies like this, diverting funds from some really useful studies.

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