By: Eric Dolan of PsyPost
New brain published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds new light on how LSD produces its psychedelic effects. The drug resulted in the “emergence of new type of order in the brain,” the researchers found.
The study used a new mathematical method to analyze brain activity, known as connectome-harmonic decomposition, to examine how LSD caused alterations in consciousness. A connectome is a distinctive pattern of neural connections — like a wiring diagram of the brain.
“I am generally interested in novel therapeutic tools that can help with the healing of psychiatric disorders, especially healing from trauma. I feel that as Western societies we generally tend to label and marginalise mental illness instead of seeing it as a rather normal reaction to extreme and abnormal circumstances,” said Selen Atasoy, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and lead author of the study.
“This, in my opinion, makes the recovery of a patient from trauma even more difficult, as this perspective of the society may further deepen the ‘dissociation’ – the withdrawal of the person, who experienced the traumatic event, from that painful experience.”
“As Dr. Gabor Mate nicely explains, trauma is not caused by the extremely painful experience itself but rather by our dissociation from that part of ourself that had to bear that experience. When I came across the studies about psychedelics, it was very remarkable to me to see how patients under the effect of psychedelics were able to reclaim and integrate their most traumatic experiences and how that led to a powerful healing process,” Atasoy told PsyPost.
“It is probably due to this effect of psychedelics that a very strong, natural psychedelic – ayahuasca – is considered a very powerful plant medicine in various indigenous cultures and has been used in shamanic healing ceremonies for centuries. On the other hand, neuroscience today has another very powerful tool; the imaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) allow us to visualise the brain activity of a person.”
“My research focuses on understanding the changes in brain activity caused by psychedelics using these functional neuroimaging datasets,” Atasoy said. “In the future, my hope is that we can gain some insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of psychedelics and also of other therapeutic tools.”