A new study explores what happens in the brain while under the influence of psychedelics, meditation, and hypnosis.
The study “Comparing neural correlates of consciousness: from psychedelics to hypnosis and meditation” was done by researchers at the University of Zurich’s Psychiatric Hospital. The paper was published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, and compares brain imaging of the brains of subjects who’ve taken psychedelics to those who were meditating or being hypnotized.
The point was to compare “altered states of consciousness” (ASC) and see how they function in the brain. There were 4 trials, using LSD, psilocybin, meditation, and hypnosis.
Participants were placed inside an MRI scanner and recorded brain activity during normal states of consciousness and while in the altered state (after taking psychedelics, while meditating, or while under hypnosis).
The results showed that these states have distinct brain mechanisms. Even though the experience may feel similar and have similar experiential effects, what’s happening in our brains is substantially different.
According to researchers, these states can be used together in therapeutic settings, but are not necessarily replacements for each other. “Overall, these results extend our understanding of the mechanisms of action of ASC and highlight the importance of exploring how these effects can be leveraged in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.”
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