Are we really able to elevate our brains to some kind of higher state of consciousness? According to new research it might be possible.
Scientists have spotted an evidence of a sustained and previously unobserved increase in neural signal diversity in people that are under the influence of psychedelic drugs.
Neural signal diversity is king of a sign of how complex the activity in our brain is going on– when we are awake the diversity is greater than when we are asleep. So the results present an early evidence that there might be a whole new state of mind that our brains could be capable to reach.
Researchers from the University of Sussex in the UK, that work on this study say they’re cautiously excited about the findings they made, which for the first time show greater neural signal diversity is possible than simply being awake and aware of what’s happening.
Anil Seth, a member of the team explains: “This finding shows that the brain-on-psychedelics behaves very differently from normal.During the psychedelic state, the electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during normal conscious wakefulness – as measured by ‘global signal diversity’.”
Neural signal diversity has been studied before, but usually in less active and more predictable states of consciousness, as in people who are asleep or in a vegetative state.
The scientists, for this study, reanalysed data gathered in earlier experiments by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in the UK, where volunteers were given psilocybin, LSD, or ketamine.
According to the latest research, the neural signal diversity of the participants was consistently higher across all three psychedelic drugs In this research scientists used brain imaging technology to measure the tiny magnetic fields generated by the brain.
They also showed that the brain connections were more random, which fits the randomness of thought you might expect with a drug trip.
Eventually, these findings could help develop drugs to control mental conditions like depression, the researchers say.
“That similar changes in signal diversity were found for all three drugs, despite their quite different pharmacology, is both very striking and also reassuring that the results are robust and repeatable,” says Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, one of the researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The study also gives an extra insight into the relationship between how conscious we are, and what we’re actually conscious of – a new area of research that scientists are just beginning to explore.
These findings might also improve understanding of how hallucinations appear to those who take psychedelic drugs, and why that kind of drugs are often associated with sudden bursts in creativity.
“People often say they experience insight under these drugs – and when this occurs in a therapeutic context, it can predict positive outcomes,” says Robin Carhart- Harris, who worked on both earlier studies and the current one.