The active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, suppresses brain activity, according to brain scans conducted on volunteers at the Imperial College London, reported TG Daily.
But researches discovered that weeks after taking the drug, people in the control group who took magic mushrooms as opposed to a placebo experienced increased activity in areas of the brain that process vision and other sensory information.
Participants were asked to rate changes in their emotional well-being two weeks later. The result: the more vivid memories they had, the better their mood after two weeks.
“Psychedelics are thought of as ‘mind-expanding’ drugs, so it has commonly been assumed that they work by increasing brain activity, but surprisingly, we found that psilocybin actually caused activity to decrease in areas that have the densest connections with other areas,” says Professor David Nutt, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London.
The volunteers similarly reported all the typical side-effects of taking mushrooms: seeing geometric patterns, unusual body sensations, an altered sense of space and time. The intensity of these effects were directly related to the mushrooms causing a drop in oxygen and blood flow to two parts of the brain. First, the posterior cingulate cortex—the part of the brain believed to influence consciousness and foster a sense of self-identity. Second, the medial prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that is hyperactive with depression.
“Previous studies have suggested that psilocybin can improve people’s sense of emotional well-being and even reduce depression in people with anxiety,” Imperial’s Dr Robin Carhart-Harris told TG Daily.