Drugs

VIDEO: Your Brain on LSD

What happens when you take acid? Here's a video that succinctly explains.

Photo Credit: agsandrew / Shutterstock.com

The good folks at AsapSCIENCE are at it again. These purveyors of videos on various scientific topics have a whole playlist of videos about drugs and how they affect you, and they've just come out with a new one on LSD.

The three-and-a-half-minute cartoon video speeds through the discovery and early history of the psychedelic superstar, breezing through Dr. Hofmann's momentous discovery and on to LSD's popularization by the hippies and subsequent demonization and criminalization by the authorities before getting down to the meat of the matter: how acid works on the brain.

The video explains the hallucinations and altered state of consciousness as resulting primarily from the 5H2TA serotonin receptor, which folds over and traps LSD molecules, making the receptor continuously fire and causing hallucinations. The drug also causes the parts of the brain, especially the visual cortex, to communicate in strange ways, which also helps to explain the vivid and complex hallucinations.

And then there's decreased blood flow in the default mode network, a network of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other networks in the brain, which scientists say correlates to strong changes in consciousness characterized as ego dissolution. Users report that such changes help them feel better about themselves and their connections to the rest of the world.  

In fact, researchers have found that taking LSD makes people more open, optimistic, creative, and imaginative, leading some to suggest that it could be useful as therapy for patients with death anxiety around terminal illness.

AsapSCIENCE warns that research on both positive and negative effects of LSD is in its infancy and cautions that you might not want to take a trip just yet and reports that even experienced users can suffer bad trips with irrational fear, paranoia, and panic attacks. But it also notes that LSD usage carries no increased risk of suicide or psychosis.

But why waste time reading the written word when AsapSCIENCE was kind enough to make this nice video? Enjoy:

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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