This Brain Map Shows Why People On Shrooms See Sounds And Hear Colours

A new study finds that tripping on (illegal) magic mushrooms may change the mind by quieting traditional brain activity and jumpstarting new connections between areas of the brain that previously didn’t communicate with one another.

Psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, the study found, temporarily altering the brain’s entire organizational framework.

The data visualisation below (b) shows how these new connections among separate regions of the brain in people dosed with psilocybin; the one on the left (a) represents the conventional connections in the brains of people not on the drug. You can see how much more connected the trippers brains are:

Shrooms brain networksJournal of the Royal Society InterfaceVisualisation of the brain connections in the brain of a person on psilocybin (right) and the brain of a person not given the drug.

These new highways of information may be the reason shroom users see sounds or hear colours. And they could also be responsible for giving magic mushrooms some of their antidepressant qualities.

As with any drug, psilocybin doesn’t come without health risks. People who use shrooms may experience unpleasant hallucinations, for example.

More research on psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms is needed. Only recently has the US government begun to loosen its restrictions on studying the medical uses of psychedelics. Many scientists have argued these legal issues have made conclusive research on psychoactive drugs “difficult and in many cases almost impossible.”

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