In 1987, the Partnership for America without drugs did really interesting ad for how the brain of a man who is under the influence of drugs looks like; showing how egg is fried in a pan with hot oil.
Three decades later, man knows a lot more about how the brain looks when it’s under the influence of drugs; thanks to advanced techniques, curious researchers and participants willing to consume certain doses for purposes of research, while MRI machine analyzes.
Taking drugs is not similar to frying an egg. Addiction has devastating consequences, and some substances certainly have long-term toxic effects. But different brains in a different way deal with drugs.
Most impressive thing about this study is how well the drug experiences line up with what physically happens to the brain. You take drugs and feel like the world is to be illuminated; meanwhile your brain is highlighted with new and strange connections and relationships that would not otherwise be possible.
Your brain on LSD
Last year a team of researchers have published the first scans of the brains of people who consumed LSD with modern neuroimaging techniques. The results showed a surprisingly strong relationship between how people perceive drugs and what physical happens in their brain.
Compared with the placebo group, participants who took LSD had greater blood flow in their visual cortex and greater connectivity between the visual cortex and the rest of the brain. The moment when this activity was strongest was when people said they are experiencing visual hallucinations.
The survey also found a correlation between the experience of people with ego dissolution and reduced connectivity between two brain regions – cortex.
Your brain on MDMA
In 2014, a team of researchers have published the results of research that involved 19 participants who took MDMA; and later thought about the happiest and worst moment of their lives to the MRI machine. Scans of the brain resulted in a pretty cool model.
Participants repeated the experiment twice, once on MDMA and once with placebo. The MDMA, they assessed the positive memories as vivid and emotionally intense, while memories were less painful. When remembering happy moments while on MDMA drugs, certain parts of the brain associated with emotional processing showed greater activity compared to when they took placebo.
This shows why the drug MDMA otherwise known as ecstasy, is being investigated for its use in the treatment of post-traumatic stress.
Your brain on Ketamine “mushrooms” and LSD
Last month, scientists from the University of Sussex have announced the first physical evidence that psychedelic drugs can lead you to another “realm of consciousness”. Consciousness is a nebulous thing, and the study of its physical reality is quite delicate. But these researchers have found a way.
They analyzed the diversity of nerve signals, a measure of how complicated patterns of your brain are. When you sleep, you have less diversity of nerve signals than when you are awake. Given that the person is less aware when asleep than when awake; you can say that in a state of higher consciousness complicated things happen in your gray matter.
Indeed, the researchers found that participants had diverse nerve signals when they were on psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine and LSD, than when they were on drugs.
Your brain on marijuana
In a study of 2006 researchers found that users of marijuana when it comes to performing difficult mental tasks had the same results as their counterparts in the group that did not consume marijuana.
The game was to follow some balls on the screen full of balls that ball against the wall and against each other. Participants are required to attend two, three or four pains in different rounds of the game. The scan of the brain allowed the scientists to identify regions that were active during the three rounds of the game and which regions became active in the higher levels of the game.
Users of marijuana had excellent test scores, but their brains look different. Certain regions were less active, while others were more active.
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