Future therapeutic use of the drug is not excluded
The abuse of the drug LSD can have serious consequences for our health and psyche. Researchers have now taken pictures of the human brain for the first time when it is under the influence of the drug LSD. The doctors explained that LSD has potential for the development of medicines.
For the first time, scientists from Imperial College London have succeeded in taking pictures of our brain when it is under the influence of LSD. The drug could be used in the future to treat mental illness. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature".
LSD could be used as a therapeutic tool in the future
In the future, the psychedelic drug LSD could be used to treat mental illness. The researchers are of the opinion that LSD can be used for therapeutic purposes. Psychedelic drugs like LSD change the normal state of the human brain, say the doctors. Brain researchers have been studying the effects of this biological phenomenon on our consciousness, explains lead author Professor David Nutt from Imperial College London. The drug LSD could ultimately be used as a therapeutic tool. Neuroscientists have been waiting for such a breakthrough for 50 years, says Prof. Nutt. For the neurosciences themselves, the new findings are what the Higgs boson (Higgs particle) was for particle physics, the expert adds. Until now it was unknown how the drug produces these profound effects in our brain. It was therefore impossible to reproduce the effects, says Prof. In addition, many scientists were too scared to experiment with LSD and there were also enormous hurdles to be overcome in order to carry out such research at all.
Researchers were able to investigate causes of LSD hallucinations for the first time
For their study, the researchers scanned the brains of twenty healthy volunteers who had previously agreed on behalf of science to be injected with LSD. Thus, for the first time, the doctors had the opportunity to investigate the neuronal basis for those wild hallucinations that are triggered by the use of LSD, the experts say. The volunteers were tested on two different days. On one day, the subjects received an injection of LSD, on the other day they received a placebo. Using three different imaging techniques, including an idle MRI, the scientists measured blood flow, brain waves, and the functional connections inside the human brain.
LSD lets regions in our brain communicate that don't normally do that
Under normal conditions, information from our eyes is processed in a part of the brain on the back of the visual cortex, says Prof. However, when the volunteers took LSD, many additional areas of the brain, not just the visual cortex, were involved in the visual processing. Brain networks that affected our attention, hearing and movement, for example, were connected more than usual, explains the professor. This created a condition that researchers call a more uniform brain. Under the influence of LSD, different regions in our brain communicate with each other that usually don't do this, explains Prof. Nutt.
Ideas for therapeutic use of LSD have been around for decades
The visual cortex in particular increases its communication with other areas of the brain, which explains the vivid and complex hallucinations under the influence of LSD, the doctors say. Other scans showed that different parts of the brain that normally formed a network were separated under the influence of LSD. This then creates feelings, such as the loss of personal identity, the experts explain. This experience can also sometimes trigger religious or spiritual emotions, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris from Imperial College London. Dr. Carhart-Harris became famous two years ago because he was the first person in England to legally administer doses of LSD to human subjects. The drug was banned there in 1971. The idea of using LSD or Lysergic acid diethylamide for therapeutic purposes has been around for several decades. The drug was first manufactured in Switzerland around 1930 to treat psychiatric disorders, doctors say.
Since 1970 there have been experiments with LSD on animals but none on human test subjects
At some point, the hippie generation discovered the hallucinogenic power of LSD and used the drug to make psychedelic experiences. The drug was therefore banned all over the world. This naturally hampered further research and the study of medical applications, the experts explain. In the 1950s and 60s, thousands of people took LSD to fight their alcoholism. In 2012, a retrospective analysis of some of these old studies showed that the drug actually helped drink less, Prof. Prof. explains. There have been many studies with LSD in animals since 1970, but none in human subjects.
Interesting effects of music under the influence of LSD
The effects on the networks in our brain could be used to treat the negative thought patterns in depression and addictive behavior. The world should rethink their view of LSD, so maybe the drug could eventually be used as a medicine, say doctors. Another finding from the study was that listening to music while taking LSD triggers interesting changes in our brain. The combination of LSD and music changes the activity of the visual cortex, which then receives additional information from an area of the brain called the parahippocampus. The so-called Parahippocampus affects our memory and mental images. The more he influences our visual cortex, the more complex visions people have experienced, the scientists explain.
In the future, powerful therapeutic combinations with LSD should be developed
It is the first time that we have experienced the interaction of a psychedelic connection and music with the brain, says PhD student Mendel Kaelen from Imperial College London. An important focus for future research is how we can use the knowledge gained from current research to develop more effective therapeutic approaches for treating depression. Listening to music under the influence of LSD can be a powerful therapeutic combination if it is provided in the right way, the expert adds. (as)