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Trippy! Magic Mushrooms Buzz the Brain Like a Dream

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Image: Mushrooms
The effect of the hallucinogen in "magic mushrooms" has been analyzed in a series of brain scans.Reason TV via YouTube

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The hallucinogen found in "magic mushrooms" triggers brain activity patterns that are similar to those seen when someone is dreaming, researchers report. The correlation is based on a study of 15 volunteers who were given intravenous doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, while they lay in an fMRI brain scanner. The data showed that the neural networks linked to high-level thinking (such as sense of self) became unsynchronized and disorganized, while the networks linked to more basic brain functions (such as emotion and memory) became more coordinated.

"People often describe taking psilocybin as producing a dreamlike state, and our findings have, for the first time, provided a physical representation for the experience in the brain," Imperial College London's Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the authors of the study appearing in the journal Human Brain Mapping, said in a news release. But this isn't the end of the trip: The researchers say they're studying the effects of LSD on creative thinking, and whether psilocybin can ease symptoms of depression. Dream come true? Or nightmare?

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