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What Psilocybin Does to the Brain

Magic mushrooms increase excitement and disorder within brain networks.

By: Michelle Quirk Psychology Today


Psychedelic compounds produce intense subjective experiences and have shown promise in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression, amongst other psychiatric conditions. But what do we actually know about what happens in the brain when we consume these substances? Down to the level of single brain cells, what produces these effects? In our new paper, we tried to answer some basic questions no one has answered before.


To do so, we looked at the effect of a 2 mg/kg dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, on the brains of awake mice by using electrodes that enable the recording of neural activity from single brain cells (neurons), networks of neurons, and cumulative brain wave activity, known as local field potential (LFP). Whilst there are many different ways to estimate the human-equivalent dose that would produce similar effects, we can say with confidence that this is a strong, though still clinically relevant, dose of psilocybin. FULL ARTICLE

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