Brainscan Reveals LSD Mimics Mind Of A Baby, Discovery Could Lead To Benefial Use of Psychedelic Drugs

First Posted: Apr 14, 2016 06:27 AM EDT

Scientists from Imperial College London have found that the psychedelic drug LSD frees the brain and makes it less compartmentalized. The observations, made after studying various brain scans, also revealed that under the influence of LSD the brain works similar to a baby's mind.

The brain normally functions on independent networks that carry out distinct functions such as hearing, movement and vision. However, according to PNAS, the influence of LSD breaks down the different compartments which result in a more unified system.

"In many ways, the brain in the LSD state resembles the state our brains were in when we were infants: free and unconstrained," Robin Carhart-Harris of the Imperial College London said. "This also makes sense when we consider the hyper-emotional and imaginative nature of an infant's mind."

According to Reuters, the findings also showed that many extra brain areas, apart from the visual cortex, added to the visual processing in the volunteers who were under the influence of LSD. The observation could be an explanation for the intricate visual hallucinations that are often related to LSD intake. The Science World Report, further adds that LSD in the human brain changes consciousness by reorganizing networks. 

Researchers also said that after the drug's effects subsided, the volunteers experienced improvements in well being. The discovery let to the suggestion that psychedelic compounds can be used in the near future for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, such as addiction or depression where negative thoughts patterns become entrenched in the mind.

The research involved 20 physically and psychologically healthy volunteers, with a previous experience of psychedelic drug intake, who were injected with either 75 micrograms of LSD, or a placebo. Following this, their brains were scanned using various techniques that included magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allowed the researchers to study the activity in the whole brain by observing electrical activity and blood flow. The study was financed by the Beckley Foundation, a British organization that funds scientific research used for finding the possible medical benefits of psychotropic drugs.

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