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What Psychedelics Do To Your Brain

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

The Naked Scientists podcast recently interviewed David Nutt who is the head of Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research.

The interview focused on the effects of psychedelic substances on the brain. Below are some of the key takeaways:

Nutt believes that psychedelic medicines create optimal conditions for cultivating new ideas, perceptions, and ways of thinking which have been particularly helpful in the treatment of mental health conditions, particularly depression.

He states that these substances put the brain in a "child-like" state: "The high level parts of your cortex, the thinking parts, the parts which integrate your hearing, your sight, your touch, etcetera - they get disrupted by psychedelics. Psychedelics, in a very simple way, put you back to what your brain was like when you were a child, when all kinds of connections were possible. The process of neural development is not a growing of the brain; it's a shrinking of the brain, getting rid of connections which you don't want. Over the decades from childhood, the brain becomes more and more constricted in what it does and more and more rigid, and psychedelics disrupt that and put you back transiently into that state of childhood wonder."

He goes on to explain that psychedelics seem to be particularly effective in reducing rumination and allowing for a more positive and constructive perspective to emerge.

In response to the role and impact of hallucinations, he adds " So visual hallucinations, they're really remarkable, because under psychedelics your visual cortex temporarily is unable to properly reconstruct the signals in the eye into images, and those simple hallucinations - we know from sophisticated electrophysiological experiments - those are the very early ways in which you reconstruct what you see. So under psychedelics, you actually see the primary workings of your visual cortex, which is actually, I think, extraordinarily interesting and something which you haven't experienced since you were a child."


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The perspectives and recommendations on this website are not made by a medical professional and should not be considered medical advice. Readers are encouraged to consult their physician before taking any supplements or substances. 


While we believe that psychedelic medicines must be decriminalized, psychedelic substances are still considered  "Schedule I" substances in the US and continue to be subject to strong enforcement across nearly all states. The reader is responsible for checking their local rules and regulations and making informed decisions with all risk considerations. Microdose Guru does not endorse or accept liability for its readers' personal choices.  

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