Psychology Magazine

Psilocybin as a Key to Consciousness.

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds

Michael Pollan offers an engaging article "The Trip Treatment" in the Feb. 9 issue of The New Yorker magazine that describes the resurgence of interest and research on psychotropics like psilocybin, particularly their use in ameliorating end of life anxiety and stress. He points to interesting work by Carhart-Harris and collaborators that I wish I had been paying more attention to. Their article on the effects of psilocybin and MDMA on the resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) between different resting state networks (RSNs) describes experiments showing that psilocybin increases RSFC, making brain networks less differentiated from each other in the psychedelic state, decreasing the natural distinction between externally-focused attention (task positive networks) and introspection (default mode network). The idea is that this de-differentiation of brain networks, this transient disorganizing of brain activity, underlies mystical experiences such as feelings of unity, ineffability, sacredness, peace and joy, transcending space and time, sacredness, or finding some objective truth about reality.
What I would particularly point MindBlog readers to in this open source article is the excellent graphics depictions of Resting State Networks and their functional associations (visual, auditory, sensorimotor, default mode, executive control, dorsal attentional, etc.), and the illustration of marked increases in between-network RSFC under psilocybin.
I should point also to their more general theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelics, which they term "The entropic brain hypothesis." Here is their summary graphic:

Psilocybin as a key to consciousness.
Spectrum of cognitive states. This schematic shows an “inverted u” relationship between entropy and cognition such that too high a value implies high flexibility but high disorder, whereas too low a value implies ordered but inflexible cognition. It is proposed that normal waking consciousness inhabits a position that is close to criticality but slightly sub-critical and primary states move brain activity and associated cognition toward a state of increased system entropy i.e., brain activity becomes more random and cognition becomes more flexible. It is proposed that primary states may actually be closer to criticality proper than secondary consciousness/normal waking consciousness.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Vegetarian Meatballs with Fried Napa Cabbage

    How to make meatless 'meatballs' that actually taste fantastic and satisfy both vegetarians and meat lovers? We'll let you in on a secret... or actually two:... Read more

    9 hours, 34 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • What I Wore: Cropped Wide-Leg Jeans

    What Wore: Cropped Wide-Leg Jeans

    Just call me a hypocrite, or maybe a convert. Just a few short months ago I told a reader to get rid of a pair of high-waisted cropped wide-leg jeans and now... Read more

    9 hours, 43 minutes ago by   Wardrobeoxygen
    FASHION, SELF EXPRESSION, SHOPPING
  • Supporting Someone with Dementia

    Dementia can be a sad, stressful disease for the victim, but also for their family, friends, and carers. A diagnosis of dementia is not the end of the world... Read more

    9 hours, 56 minutes ago by   Steve Bradley
    HEALTH, PSYCHOLOGY
  • Oh Pep! – ‘Your Nail and Hammer’

    Pep! ‘Your Nail Hammer’

    Australian duo Oh Pep! have released ‘Your Nail and Hammer’, the third single from their upcoming second album. The short and sweet song finds the band... Read more

    10 hours, 12 minutes ago by   Spectralnights
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC
  • Kaduna State University Postgraduate Admission List – 2018/2019

    KASU Postgraduate Admission List for the 2018/2019 academic session has been released. Candidates who applied for admission into the Postgraduate programmes of... Read more

    10 hours, 36 minutes ago by   Naijapary
    SOCIETY, A-CLASSER
  • The Trouble with Mary Pinnock

    Trouble with Mary Pinnock

    You know me, I can never leave anything alone. I am always up for a challenge and possibly the worst thing anyone can say to me is 'you probably won't find... Read more

    10 hours, 38 minutes ago by   Kirsty Stonell Walker
    CULTURE
  • MAUTECH Yola Admission List – 2018/2019 Out

    MAUTECH 1st batch admission list for the 2018/2019 academic session has been released. Candidates who appkied for admission in the university are by this... Read more

    10 hours, 41 minutes ago by   Naijapary
    SOCIETY, A-CLASSER

Magazines