For the first time, neuroscientists have proven that psychedelic substances: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD, lead to an elevated level of consciousness, as measured by higher neural signal diversity exceeding those of normal waking consciousness.

A study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Geneva proves what many have long believed, that psychedelic substances may increase your level of consciousness. Researchers used brain imaging technology to measure the tiny magnetic fields produced in the brain and found that activity in the brain was consistently higher when on psychedelics.

What Does This Mean?

Consciousness can be loosely defined as that which vanishes every night when we fall asleep and returns the next morning when we wake up. This experiment proved that psychedelics have profound and widespread effects, “broadening” the scope of consciousness, increasing imagination and deepening levels of perception.

Your Brain on Drugs

University of Sussex

Studying ‘neural signal diversity’ is a useful way to study what differences in the brain when you are awake as opposed to when you are asleep. This signal diversity can be thought of as how often a specific part of the brain changes the state in which it is operating. During sleep, brain regions don’t change their state as often, but when you are awake, the signal diversity is much greater.

In this study, they compared the measure of signal diversity between the psychedelic state and the normal stat, and  found that the psychedelic state showed more of this signal diversity.

In the psychedelic state, individual brain regions change more, and change more often. And interestingly, the level of changes related more to the quality of the drug rather than the quantity.

The Findings

The scientists found that the psychedelic state induces increased brain-wide activity as compared to a placebo, across a range of measures and three different psychedelic compounds, LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine. Read the full study, here.

Cover image: Roberlan Borges