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Video: Groundbreaking Study Reveals Effects Of LSD On The Brain

By McCarton Ackerman 04/13/16

The crowdfunded study could have potential implications for LSD to eventually become a viable option for treating addiction and depression.

First-Ever Study Examines Effects Of LSD On The Brain
Photo via The Guardian

A groundbreaking new study has visually shown just how the human brain is impacted by LSD.

CNN reports that researchers at Imperial College London used brain scanning and other techniques to obtain the new findings. The scientists recruited 20 volunteers for the study, all of whom were in good health and had previous experience taking psychedelics. Participants were given the drug, as well as a placebo, then had their brains imaged inside an fMRI scanner in order to visualize their brain activity.

The scientists said in a statement that the LSD-impacted brains showed an “explosion of communication.” They explained that “under normal conditions, information from our eyes is processed in a part of the brain at the back of the head called the visual cortex. However, when the volunteers took LSD, many additional brain areas—not just the visual cortex—contributed to visual processing.” This is due to the fact that blood flow to visual regions also increased after consuming LSD, which the researchers believe result in the hallucinations associated with taking the drug.

Lead researcher Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said her team believes “this effect underlies the profound altered state of consciousness that people often describe during an LSD experience. It is also related to what people sometimes call ‘ego-dissolution,’ which means the normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of reconnection with themselves, others and the natural world.”

The study could have potential implications not only for future research on the subject, but also for LSD to eventually become a viable option for treating addiction and depression, among other disorders. LSD is currently classified in the U.S. as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical benefits. Substances under the Schedule I category are also extremely difficult to obtain for research purposes, even in highly controlled environments. “Conditions like addiction and alcohol dependence can be stubborn,” said Carhart-Harris. “You might need something more potent to really make in-roads to conditions like these.”

The scientists adopted a unique approach to raising funds for their research, turning to science crowdfunding site Walacea to reach their £25,000.00 ($35,500) goal last March. They far exceeded their expectations, with 1,628 backers pledging a total of £53,390.00 ($75,900).

Other studies have also shown that LSD can provide meaningful medical benefits. In November 2014, Swiss researchers found that the drug can permanently stop “end-of-life” anxiety in terminally ill patients.

This video from The Guardian further explains the long-awaited study and its vast potential.  

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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