Study Finds Evidence Of Higher Consciousness From Psychedelics

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Scientists have found the first evidence of a higher state of consciousness by measuring the complexity of brain activity of people under the influence of psychedelics. The study measured magnetic fields generated by brain activity and used the data to create an index of varying levels of consciousness.

The study, conducted by a team at the University of Sussex in England, looked at the diversity of brain signals, a measure of the complexity of brain activity, in people under the influence of psilocybin, LSD, and ketamine, compared to the brain activity of people in lower levels of consciousness, such as sleep, anesthesia, and ‘vegetative’ states.

Participants under the influence of these drugs showed higher than baseline diversity, or higher levels than someone who is simply awake. This is the first time a measure of an elevated consciousness has been recorded in a study of its kind.

The researchers were quick to point out that their measure of higher consciousness doesn’t necessarily imply that the psychedelic state is better or higher functioning than our normal waking state. Instead the index they’ve used shows that the psychedelic state increases small magnetic fields produced by the brain and higher neural-signal diversity in all three types of drugs.

According to the study, “During the psychedelic state, the electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during normal conscious wakefulness.”

One researcher involved in the study, Dr. Muthukumaraswamy, said he was surprised the results were consistent with each drug, despite their differing pharmacology. He and his colleagues believe that their research could lead to carefully-controlled use of the drug for therapeutic treatment in patients suffering from severe depression.

The group found correlation between participants’ reports of changes in intensity of the psychedelic experience and changes in brain signal diversity. They believe this shows there is a difference in aspects of brain activity in our everyday conscious experience.

This study comes after recent trials have shown psilocybin can flip a “reset” mechanism in the brains of people suffering from depression. Similar studies found benefits in the therapeutic use of ketamine and LSD for people suffering from a range of physical and psychiatric issues, including drug addiction and PTSD.

Similar studies have been conducted to test electroencephalography, or EEG, on participants in deep states of meditation, finding increased levels of alpha and theta wave activity. It’s unclear whether this recent study plans on testing participants levels of brain-signal diversity in non-intoxicated, altered states of consciousness.



New Gene Discovery May Explain Rapid Human Brain Evolution

A revealing new study on human evolution and brain development has just been published. Could this lend credence to the stoned ape theory of brain evolution?

About 300,000-800,000 years ago the human brain experienced a massive and accelerated growth spurt. Scientists have offered many explanations for how and why this may have occurred, but a new study out of Boston Children’s Hospital focused on a fast-evolving set of the human genome called human accelerated regions (HARS). Previous studies have found about 3,100 HARS during brain development, but the team at Children’s Hospital determined one HAR gene PPP1R17 could be responsible for or play a significant role in, rapid brain development. Further, they discovered this works differently in humans than in other animals.

Ben Stewart, the host of Gaia’s Limitless series, said,”[T]hese regions of the human DNA may hold some kind of an answer at the rapid explosion of human neo-cortex because if you think of it evolutionarily, there’s not been one creature, at least on planet Earth, that has been studied that had any organ increase in size as large and as rapidly as the human brain did, so there’s definitely some unanswered questions there.”

“I’m pretty sure that these HARS regions are being looked at for something very unique in the evolution of the brain, and my own personal twist on it is this also might be important when we start looking at brian-machine interfaces and how the brain can potentially cause mutations to adapt to some kind of technology in the brain to enhance or evolve the human brain,” Stewart said.

How could this new discovery be related to the Stoned Ape theory?

“There’s a possibility that the Stoned Ape theory could lead into this. Now, the Stoned Ape theory was really popularized by Terence McKenna,” Stewart said. “Over time, you would have some of our ancient ancestors, hominids, that would be following behind bovine creatures, cows, and in the cow patties in the fields that would naturally, having followed these creatures around for hundreds of thousands of years or whatever it might have been, that they would have started eating the mushrooms, the psilocybin mushrooms that grow naturally in cow patties. These experiences tickling the language centers and other parts of the brain, bringing down the rigidity of the default mode network, and activating other communication hubs within the brain, that could actually explain the rapid explosion of the human neocortex.”

“In this article, they’re saying that these human accelerated regions act differently in humans than they do in primates or creatures like mice and ferrets that they’ve looked into now. So, potentially if there is some connection with the Stoned Ape theory, that psychedelics or psychotropics helped in the expansion of the human neocortex, and made us as, at least psychologically, so much different than the rest of the creatures on Earth, then there may be something to look at here.”

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