First Images of Brain on LSD Are Backed by Crowdfunding

By Victoria Kim 03/10/15

The results could revolutionize our understanding of the brain.

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A team of British neuroscientists are just £25,000 ($38,000) away from completing the first brain imaging study to look at a human brain on the psychedelic drug, LSD. So, researchers from Imperial College London have resorted to crowdfunding to achieve their goal.

The taboo surrounding LSD has made it difficult to obtain funding for this research. “Despite the incredible potential of this drug to further our understanding of the brain, political stigma has silenced research,” said David Nutt, a psychiatrist and professor of psychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

The project, expected to be published later this year, could revolutionize understanding of the human brain, say the researchers. The study involves giving 20 volunteers a small dose of LSD and using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to capture its effect on the brain.

Aside from learning the psychological effects of LSD on the human brain, the neuroscientists are interested in exploring the drug’s therapeutic potential and how it relates to consciousness.

Nutt and other researchers previously conducted a brain imaging study on psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in "magic mushrooms."

"It showed that psilocybin plays a role in the Default Mode Network (DMN), which is an area of the brain that has been implicated in cases of depression, OCD, Alzheimer's, and autism," according to the LSD project's crowdfunding page. "We suspect that LSD works in a similar way to psilocybin, but we will not know for certain until we have analyzed the results of the brain imaging study."

So far, the crowdfunding campaign has earned well over their £25,000 goal since it launched last week. Supporters of the project have pledged over £40,000, with 40 days to go.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr