Taking LSD can make you say some pretty weird things, but it could also increase your ability to be creative with language, according to a new study.
Psychedelic drugs have long been associated with creative thinking thanks to the way that they alter connectivity between brain networks in order to generate entropic patterns of neural activity. This basically means that brain regions that wouldn’t normally communicate with one another suddenly become interconnected, resulting in trippy thoughts and a heightened state of awareness.
The study, which is published in the journal Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, describes how 10 volunteers were asked to name the items they saw in a series of pictures while under the effects of LSD, and when having taken a placebo.
During the placebo trials, participants had no trouble correctly naming the items they saw, although when under the effects of LSD, they made some intriguing semantic processing errors. Rather than completely misidentifying the pictures, participants tended to mistake them for other items that are categorically linked. For instance, when seeing a picture of a car, they sometimes said “bus” or “train”.
According to the study authors, this indicates that dropping acid generates an “increased spread of semantic activation,” whereby the brain connections between stored words and meanings become strengthened. As a result, words that are closely related all spring to mind at once, leading to language errors.
Though this might seem like a hindrance rather than a benefit, study author Neiloufar Family explained in a statement that this “hyper-associative state” allows people to form faster and more creative mental links between concepts, which may lead to an overall enhancement of creative thinking.
The ability of psychedelics such as LSD to stimulate mental inventiveness is currently a hot research topic, with other studies indicating that substances like psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – and ayahuasca also augment creativity.