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LSD study explains mystical experience

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/04/2016

Taking LSD is often described as a mystical experience, but researchers now say there's a perfectly scientific explanation.

In the second study released on the drug this week, a global team of researchers - including from the University of Auckland - have mapped the brains of those taking LSD to try to explain a feeling by users that their sense of "self" is dissolving.

By scanning brains while on the drug, the scientists say the phenomenon - called "ego dissolution" - is caused by parts of the brain that don't usually "talk" to each other connecting.

The drug was given to 15 healthy people, with the results showing higher-level parts of the brain had become "heavily over-connected", including the fronto-parietal cortex - the region associated with self-consciousness.

"This could mean that LSD results in a stronger sharing of information between regions, enforcing a stronger link between our sense of self and the sense of the environment and potentially diluting the boundaries of our individuality," researcher Enzo Tagliazucchi said.

He said the research not only provided biological insights, but also raised philosophical questions about reality.

The study comes after similar research released this week found the effects of LSD on the brain could possibly be used to help treat psychiatric disorders.

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