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posted by janrinok on Sunday November 30 2014, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the available-on-prescription? dept.

I may start growing 'shrooms in my dark and dank pantry and get off Celexa after reading this New York Times article about what may be the medicinal qualities of magic mushrooms:

A study published last month in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface compared M.R.I.s of the brains of subjects injected with psilocybin [the psychoactive agent in magic mushrooms] with scans of their normal brain activity. The brains on psilocybin showed radically different connectivity patterns between cortical regions (the parts thought to play an important role in consciousness). The researchers mapped out these connections, revealing the activity of new neural networks between otherwise disconnected brain regions.

The researchers suspect that these unusual connections may be responsible for the synaesthetic experience trippers describe, of hearing colors, for example, and seeing sounds. The part of the brain that processes sound may be connecting to the part of the brain that processes sight. The study’s leader [said that] his team doubted that this psilocybin-induced connectivity lasted. They think they are seeing a temporary modification of the subject’s brain function.

The fact that under the influence of psilocybin the brain temporarily behaves in a new way may be medically significant in treating psychological disorders like depression. “When suffering depression, people get stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts and cannot get out of it,” [the study's leader] said. “One can imagine that breaking any pattern that prevents a ‘proper’ functioning of the brain can be helpful.” Think of it as tripping a breaker or rebooting your computer.

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  • (Score: 2) by q.kontinuum on Monday December 01 2014, @07:15AM

    by q.kontinuum (532) on Monday December 01 2014, @07:15AM (#121435) Journal

    “When suffering depression, people get stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts and cannot get out of it,” [the study's leader] said. “One can imagine that breaking any pattern that prevents a ‘proper’ functioning of the brain can be helpful.”

    First of all, it's interesting that the conclusion seems to be nearly unrelated to the mentioned MRIs. We knew already that psilocybin disrupts the usual way of thinking, and the argument seems to be solely based on this aspect. Looks like the whole MRI-talk only serves the purpose of appearing more professional. Nevertheless, I would basically agree with the conclusion. But this statement would work for any drug influencing thought patterns, e.g. for alcohol as well, and in my experience that does not work. For me, alcohol seems to slow down thinking, emphasizing emotions, that way amplifying depressive phases. With alcohol I never woke up in a better mood than I had before the first glass. On top, alcohol can lead to addiction and therefore lots of new problems.

    THC in small dosage, on the other hand, seems to reduce emotions while changing the flow of thoughts - not always in a productive way, but potentially enough to get out of that spiral of negative thoughts, and it's not only a reboot (as in stopping the current thoughts), but usually provides a fresh perspective on existing problems. Sometimes the thoughts under influence even have some merits when they are reconsidered with a clear head later on. Nevertheless, this should not be a replacement for professional counseling.

    I don't know much about psilocybin, but the effect of that drug sounds disconcerting to me, especially for people being already in a bad mood. From what I heard, the effect is supposed to be similar to LSD, and (also just hearsay) usage of these drugs can lead to real horror-trips.

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  • (Score: 2) by TK on Monday December 01 2014, @09:49PM

    by TK (2760) on Monday December 01 2014, @09:49PM (#121648)

    If the desired outcome is breaking repetitive patterns of thought/action, the details of the administration would seem to be the most important part. I'm sure you've encountered habitual THC and alcohol users in your life that have displayed symptoms of depression. I know I have. Talk about spiraling into a single thought pattern.

    As for psilocybin, I'll admit my experience is minor, but I don't know of any habitual users. Maybe a few times every year. I've certainly never heard of any mushroom equivalent of "wake and bake" or "hair of the dog".

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