Brain scans of people under the influence of psilocybin, the active ingredient of the hallucinogenic "magic mushrooms" has given scientists the most detailed picture to date of how psychedelic drugs work in the brain. The findings are published this week in two scientific journals and show that, far from increasing neuronal activity, this substance off certain areas of the brain.
? We tend to think that psychedelic drugs 'mind-expanding' and, therefore, should act by increasing the activity of the brain; but surprisingly psilocybin does the opposite: reduced activity in brain areas that have denser connections with other regions of gray matter ?, says David Nutt, head of both studies. This is the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex, involved in consciousness. "These centers control in a way our experience of the world and keep it in order," Nutt specified. Therefore, the researcher added, it is logical that "disable these regions leads to a state in which the world around us is perceived strangely." The effects narrated by the participants in the experiment, including vision of geometric patterns, unusual bodily sensations and altered perception of space and time are related to the lack of oxygen and blood flow in these areas.
Moreover, the brain areas affected by the use of magic mushrooms are hyperaroused in people suffering from depression, which explains why psilocybin attributed antidepressant effects. Added to this it is that psilocybin reduces blood flow in the hypothalamus, where blood pools in cases of migraine, which explains why this substance can also relieve headaches.
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