from the deep-trip dept.
The researchers used a modified version of Deep Dream to process a panoramic video of the university campus. Then they showed it to 12 volunteers, finding that the visual hallucinations were similar to those brought on by psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.
The volunteers were asked questions like whether they felt a loss of control or a loss of their sense of self, and whether they saw patterns and colours. Their answers matched up closely with the results of a 2013 study [open, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2063-13.2013] [DX] into the experience of taking psilocybin.
In a second experiment, 22 participants were asked whether they felt any sense of temporal distortion, or a warped sense of time. In this case the responses were similar to those recorded after watching control videos.
That would seem to suggest the researchers' machine can replicate some, but not all, the effects of being high on psychedelic drugs. However, only a few volunteers have been tested so far, and they were a different group to those quizzed on psilocybin back in 2013.
This is just the beginning for the technology – the system is very flexible and can be tweaked in all kinds of ways. In the future, participants could even get to adjust the parameters of the experience themselves.
With better hardware, the algorithms could be run in real time and applied to an augmented reality view instead of a pre-recorded panoramic video.
Also at Newsweek.
A Deep-Dream Virtual Reality Platform for Studying Altered Perceptual Phenomenology (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-16316-2) (DX)
The Guardian is reporting that Google is trying to understand how its neural net for image recognition works by feeding in random noise then telling the neural net to look for certain features then feeding the resulting image back in. Apart from anything else some of the images generated are astounding.
Link to original Google research article.
An fMRI study has found evidence of a reduction in depressive symptoms after treatment with psilocybin:
A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can "reset" the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.
The small study gave 19 patients a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient psilocybin. Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks.
However, the team at Imperial College London says people should not self-medicate.
There has been a series of small studies suggesting psilocybin could have a role in depression by acting as a "lubricant for the mind" that allows people to escape a cycle of depressive symptoms. But the precise impact it might be having on brain activity was not known.
Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13282-7) (DX)