Micro-Dosing Psychedelics Appears to Boost Creativity Says Study
The benefits of micro-dosing psychedelics, such as psilocybin, might have found validity in a recent FDA-approved study conducted by the London-based, Compass Pathways. After administering small doses of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” subjects were given tests to analyze creative thought and normal cognitive function.
The study found that the micro-dose improved creativity and had no negative effect on day-to-day cognitive function, including rational thinking, problem-solving, and abstract-reasoning.
The subjects were given an average .37 grams of dried mushrooms three days a week, followed by cognitive tests 90 minutes after consumption. As reported by Scientific American, one psychologist involved in the study, Dr. Bernhard Hommel of the Netherlands’ Leiden University said, “performance was significantly higher,” on tests of convergent and divergent thinking –two measures of analytical and creative thinking.
The study was conducted after a trend of anecdotal evidence from Silicon Valley execs and creatives who have used psilocybin and LSD in diminutive doses on a regular basis to boost creative thought, supplant caffeine, and generally increase mental performance.
Studies by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris at London’s Imperial College have made leaps and bounds studying the benefits psychedelics can provide sufferers of depression and drug addiction, while also breaking down antiquated taboos from the drugs’ history.
One of the recent discoveries of Carhart-Harris and the team involved psychedelics’ effect on the Default Mode Network (DMN), a series of brain regions connected with ego, thought, and emotion. The DMN is the daydreaming “default” mode our brains go into when they have nothing to focus on. The study found that when psychedelics were administered, the DMN quieted down, supporting the feeling of “ego-dissolution” often reported by psychedelic users.
They also noticed that the default mode network plays a role in the strict connections our brains make that reinforce behavior and thought; essentially what hampers creativity. But when psychedelics were introduced, the brain opened up it’s thinking to drastically more possibilities, leading to greater creativity but also temporary false conclusions about what it was seeing – the mechanism behind hallucinations.
But now it seems that with micro-doses, those myriad possibilities in the thought process may be accessed without the trip, sans hallucinations. Our brains form rigid connections as we get older, creating ‘shortcuts’ in order to easily comprehend and react with everything life throws our way. But at the same time, those connections inhibit creative thought, keeping us set in our ways. But what Carhart-Harris et al. hypothesized is that psychedelics break down those connections and open up new ones, allowing creative “out-of-the-box” thinking. And that’s what this study focused on; instead of one intense, paradigm-shattering trip, could a regiment of imperceptible daily doses do the same?
Psilocybin targets 5-HT receptors in the brain which are responsible for regulating serotonin. These receptors are known to influence reflective thought, introspection, and imagination. They are also the target of migraine and cluster headache medications, which some sufferers have found can be replaced with a more effective dose of psilocybin. In addition to serotonin, psilocybin also increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is thought to mediate desire and motivation.
Of course, this was a single trial in which the placebo effect could have played a role, warranting more placebo-controlled iterations of the study. It was also posted as a preprint, meaning it has yet to be put through the rigors of peer-review. But if their findings and method were valid, it seems that psychedelics could give that creative boost many seek.
God on the Brain; The God Helmet and How We Experience the Divine
For most people, the search for God leads to a mosque, an ashram, a synagogue, or a church. For others, they head to a mountaintop or a quiet, calm place seeking stillness and contemplation. But is it possible to experience God through a wearable apparatus or even a helmet, like one would wear biking or skiing? Can divine experience be artificially triggered in our brains? Inventor Stanley Koren and neuroscientist Michael Persinger, as well as those who have contributed to their work, would answer, yes, it is possible.
Stanley Koren was a neuroscientist who developed what is known as the God Helmet based on the specifications created by Persinger. The helmet is an experimental object designed to study religious experiences and creativity, all through a subtle temporal lobe stimulation that impacts the part of the brain usually associated with how we understand God — the amygdala and hippocampus. The God, or Koren Helmet, merges science and religion into a research field that is dedicated to investigating what role the brain plays in religious, mystical, and creative experiences.
The God Helmet; How Does It Work?
The Koren Helmet utilizes a network of low-intensity magnetic signals, or a field-to-field interaction onto the brain, mildly disrupting the brain which causes the left and the right side to communicate, specifically about a sensed, or religious presence. The experience of using the helmet highlights the brain’s central role to what is recognized as a deep spiritual embodiment, normally associated with activities such as prayer, fasting, or meditation. Sessions are held in the quiet of an acoustic chamber, or totally silent room with electromagnetic insulation.
For Persinger, the brain is considered to be the key to understand religion, including the physiological causes, as well as, ways to replicate or train the brain to deepen the divine experience. According to Persinger, who tested the God Helmet on more than 2,000 subjects, up to 80 percent state that the mild disruption that the God Helmet provides created a “sensed presence,” a feeling subjects, both those who identified as believers and non-believers, described as religious, or spiritual. Additionally, about one percent of subjects said they had direct experiences of God, though Persinger doesn’t consider these numbers accurate as such experiences can be quite personal and profound, often making it difficult for researchers to record.