Scientists have looked into the brain to show how taking DMT affects human consciousness by significantly changing the electrical activity of the brain. The most important psychoactive components of ayahuasca , the psychedelic concoction traditionally made from grape vines and leaves of the Amazon rainforest. The drink is usually prepared as part of a shamanic ceremony and is associated with unusual and vivid visions or hallucinations.
The latest study shows for the first time how the strong psychedelic alters our waking brainwaves. Dream while you are awake. "
The work, led by researchers from the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London and published today in the journal Scientific Reports, can explain why people taking DMT and ayahuasca experience intense visual imagery and immersion. Dreamlike experiences.
DMT is a naturally occurring chemical found in minute quantities in the human brain, but also in larger quantities in a number of plant species around the world
Reports from people who have taken DMT report intense visual hallucinations which are often characterized by strong emotional experiences and even "breakthroughs" in what users call alternative reality or dimension.
It is clear that these people are fully engrossed in their experiences – it is like daydreaming, only much livelier and more intense, it is like dreaming, but with open eyes. Christopher TImmermann Center for Psychedelic Research
However, scientists are keen to use the strong psychoactive compound for research, as it produces relatively short but intense psychedelic experiences that provide a window for collecting data Provide brain activity when consciousness is profoundly altered.
In the most recent study, the Imperial team captured EEG measurements from healthy participants in a clinical setting in a placebo-controlled design.
A total of 13 participants received an intravenous infusion of DMT at the Imperial Clinical Research Facility of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Subjects were given caps with electrodes to measure brain electrical activity before, during, and after infusion, with the culmination of the psychedelic experience lasting about 10 minutes.
The analysis revealed that DMT significantly altered brain electrical activity by significantly decreasing alpha waves – the dominant electrical rhythm of the human brain when we are awake. They also found a short-lived increase in brainwaves typically associated with dreaming, namely theta waves.
& # 39; # 39 & Chaotic; Brain Activity
In addition to changes in the types of brain waves, they also found that overall brain activity has become more chaotic and less predictable – the opposite of what can be observed in states of consciousness such as deep sleep or general anesthesia.
"The changes in brain activity associated with DMT are slightly different from those we observe in others psychedelics such as psilocybin or LSD, which mainly causes a reduction in brain waves," said senior author Christopher Timmermann of the Center for Psychedelic Research.
"Here we saw an emergent rhythm present during the most intense part of the experience and an emerging order in the midst of otherwise chaotic patterns suggesting brain activity.
"It is clear from the altered brainwaves and the participants' reports that these people are completely immersed in their experiences – it is like daydreaming, only much livelier and more insistent, it is like dreams, but with open eyes."  DMT research can provide important insights into the relationship between brain activity and consciousness, and this small study is a first step in this direction. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris Center for Psychedelic Research
Mr. Timmermann Explains This While it is unclear whether DMT may have any clinical potential at this stage, the group hopes to further advance the work by continuously infusing DMT. Extend that Window of psychedelic experience and collect more data.
The team says that future studies will provide more sophisticated measurements of brain activity, such as: FMRI, to show which regions and networks of the brain are affected by DMT. They believe that the visual cortex, the large area in the back of the brain, is likely to play a role.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, director of the Center for Psychedelic Research, said, "DMT is a particularly intriguing psychedelic. The visual vividness and depth of immersion caused by high doses of the substance appear to be in excess of what is reported in better-studied psychedelics such as psilocybin or magic mushrooms.
It's like humans experiencing DMT, but it's useful to compare it to waking dreams or a near-death experience.
"We believe that DMT research can provide important insights into the relationship between brain activity and consciousness. Study is a first step in this path.
"Neuronal correlates of the DMT experience assessed with multivariate EEG" by Christopher Timmermann et al. is published in the journal Scientific Reports . DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-019-51974-4
Feature Image: From a rendered video of the EEG output with drop-off in alpha waves. Picture credits: Masahiro Kahata