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Here’s how LSD actually affects your brain

A groundbreaking new study has revealed the truth about the controversial drug

There have been loads of studies on the effects of LSD in recent months. One revealed that the psychedelic drug was actually great for improving “psychological wellbeing”. Another swore that it encouraged men to act more “peaceful and compassionately.” Given its rep for hallucinogenic headfuckery – as well as its ability to leave people tripping forever – these are all pretty unexpected developments.

Now, a groundbreaking new study seems to be offering more solid proof of the drug’s positive points. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal this week, LSD may actually make the brain more “complete”; leading the organ to be more “integrated or unified.”

“Normally our brain consists of independent networks that perform separate specialised functions, such as vision, movement, and hearing – as well as more complex things like attention,” said Robin Carhart-Harris, who led the research, in a statement. “However, under LSD, the separateness of these networks breaks down and instead you see a more integrated or unified brain.”

Scientists reportedly scanned the brains of 20 volunteers for the study; all of whom received both LSD and a placebo. They reportedly found a diminished “sense of self” (or less of an ego) in participants who were on the drug. They also saw that its hallucinogenic effects led to users “seeing” with various other parts of their brain – not just their visual cortex. Apparently, this accounts for all those ‘religious’ awakenings people tend to experience while on the drug.

“Our results suggest that this effect underlies the profound altered state of consciousness that people often describe during an LSD experience,” he continued. “It is also related to what people sometimes call 'ego-dissolution', which means the normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of reconnection with themselves, others and the natural world.”

He added: “This experience is sometimes framed in a religious or spiritual way – and seems to be associated with improvements in well-being after the drug's effects have subsided.”