IFL Science takes another look (courtesy of ISI Foundation researchers) at magic mushroom trips, and finds some surprises in what exactly psilocybin mushrooms do to your brain:
Prior studies have found that that getting high on psilocybin doesn’t just create a colorful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours; it can cause neurological changes that last over a year. These changes resulted in a personality that was more open to the creative arts and became happier, even 14 months after receiving the psilocybin.
Though previous research surmised that psilocybin decreased brain activity, the current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see what was really going on. The study used 15 participants with prior positive experiences with hallucinogens to avoid a bad trip inside the enclosed machine. Some of the participants received psilocybin, while the other half received a saline placebo.
Surprisingly, the researchers saw that upon receiving psilocybin, the brain actually re-organized connections and linked previously unconnected regions of the brain. These connections were not random, but appeared very organized and stable. Once the drug wore off, the connections returned to normal.
“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization. One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synesthesia which is often reported in conjunction with the psychedelic state,” the authors wrote.