Science

Neuroscientists uncover how magic mushrooms “rebalance” the brain

This finding was published Monday, [April 13, 2020] in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences … If the magic mushrooms demonstrate anything, it’s that the brain can learn to use its fixed hardware in very different ways, if the right ingredients are involved. The trick is figuring out what tools the brain needs to run different types of software on that hardware.

Scientists constructed a model of the human brain on psilocybin, illuminating how magic mushrooms allow our brain to access untapped potential. This model shows that, under the influence of psilocybin, the brain creates a feedback loop of neuron activity and neurotransmitter release (the chemical messengers that neurons use to communicate). The models showed that the brain is able to tap into new networks by coupling the effects of neuron activity and the release of neurotransmitters, like serotonin. The release of neurotransmitters and the firing of neurons work together – and when you have one without the other, the whole system falls apart. When the scientists adjusted their model to have these processes work independently, they found that they weren’t able to recreate the same “destabilization” of networks that you would usually see when someone is on magic mushrooms. The same breakdown in their pattern happened when they replaced the typical serotonin receptors utilized by magic mushrooms (5-HT2A receptors) with other types of serotonin receptors. Taken together, this suggests that both the receptors themselves, and the patterns of neuron activity are necessary for psilocybin to really work.

Original Article (Inverse):
Neuroscientists uncover how magic mushrooms “rebalance” the brain
Artwork Fair Use: scientificanimations

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