- Researchers at Cornell believe they’ve figured out how LSD changes your perception of reality
- A new paper suggests tripping on acid lowers barriers in your brain that make you see the world like a kid again
- Read more about the effects of LSD here
The counterculture movement of the 1960s is inextricably tied with the various mind-altering substances routinely consumed by the damn dirty hippies who became increasingly disillusioned with the state of a world filled with issues and injustices the powers that be were perfectly content to turn a blind eye to (largely because that’s what allowed them to stay in power in the first place).
Many of these malcontents led the charge for a dramatic overhaul of society after having their third eye opened by psychedelics. That includes LSD, the drug championed by the likes of Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, the last of whom threw the legendary Acid Tests that played an instrumental role in bringing newfound enlightenment to the souls who would come to embrace the former’s advice to turn on, tune in, and drop out.
The United States government also conducted plenty of research into the effects of LSD (and may have inadvertently created the Unabomber in the process). However, the countercultural crusade was essentially an experiment on a national scale that showed the drug’s ability to make the masses questioned everything they thought they knew—which played an instrumental role in it being made illegal in 1968.
More than 50 years later, the tides have once again begun to turn as the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics become increasingly impossible to deny. Study after study has shown LSD has an incredible amount of potential when it comes to treating a wide variety of mental afflictions, and now, researchers at Cornell University believe they’ve made a major breakthrough in figuring out why.
According to The Guardian, the scientists set out to examine the REBUS theory (short for “relaxed beliefs under psychedelics”), which suggests acid can essentially make your brain unlearn how it traditionally processes information. In order to do so, they gave the luckier of two test groups LSD and compared their MRI scans to subjects who took a placebo.
The way we perceived the world is actually the result of our minds being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of sensory information. Over time, the brain learns how to filter out certain “noise” it deems unimportant before conveying the more essential information. The process is a fairly defined and linear one, but the team at Cornell discovered people who took LSD entered an almost hybrid state that saw their brain focus on aspects it’s been taught to largely ignore.
The Guardian spoke with a professor of neurology who suggested the results show acid is essentially a mental time machine. He said “you go back to a state where bits of the brain that haven’t spoken since you were a baby can cross-talk” and hinted it could explain why LSD could be helpful in treating depression and the “repetitive and ruminative” thought cycle that accompanies it because the substance “disrupts those kinds of processes so people can escape from it.”
The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed, but it certainly sounds like they’re onto something.