CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time, scientists have mapped the effects on LSD on humans, showing that the drug literally frees the mind by breaking down typical communication barriers between different areas of the brain.
Different areas of the brain typically work on their own, controlling specific functions, such has vision or hearing.
Under LSD, those silo-like activities cease and each area of the brain begins to communicate more freely, leading to 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 Cahart-Harris, who led the study, told Reuters.
The findings were published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.
The research also found that many areas of the brain, not just the visual cortex, assisted with visual processing under LSD, which could explain the powerful visual hallucinations associated with the drug.
Under the study, 20 people were given a moderate dose of LSD on one day and a placebo on another day.
On both days, the participants’ brains were scanned. Five of the scans were deemed unreliable, due to patients’ excessive movements.
The image below indicates the effects of LSD across the entire brain, the bright orange showing increased blood flow and electrical activity, compared with the gray-colored placebo scans.
While further research is required, the scientists hope that their work will lead to ways to use LSD to treat psychiatric disorders, such as depression or addiction.