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LSD May "Harmonize" Your Brain And Help Recover From Mental Illness


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


A study published in Scientific Reports says that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) may be capable of “harmonizing” your brain and helping people recover from mental illness.

The study, led by Selen Atasoy from Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, used a mathematical method to analyze connectome-harmonic decomposition, brain activity induced by LSD.


Looking at fMRI data from 12 participants under the influence of LSD and a placebo, they used a unique brain imaging technique to see how LSD helps the brain essentially rewire itself, in turn possibly helping people recover from mental illness.

“We applied a new analysis, a harmonic decoding of fMRI data, which looks at neural activity in a new way; as a combination of harmonic waves in the brain that we call ‘connectome harmonics’,” Atasoy told PsyPost.

They found that when participants were under the influence of LSD, their brains expressed a non-random harmony of their functional waves. It suggests that, while using LSD, the areas of the brain become connected to others that they don’t usually work with, said Inverse.

Some of the participants were given LSD doses after hearing music, with LSD previously being shown to enhance emotional responses to instrumental tracks. Listening to music seemed to amplify the effects of LSD, described as being “similar to jazz improvisation,” according to Atasoy.


It suggests that psychedelic substances like LSD encourage the brain to develop patterns of activity, which may help recovery from disordered connections caused by mental illness. This process slowed down as the effects of LSD wore off, but some degree of reorganization remained.

“By forcing the brain to explore new pathways, it's possible that it might be able to build new networks that help overcome trauma,” noted Science Alert.

While LSD probably can’t be given as a treatment for mental illness just yet, as we don’t know the full effects of what it does to the brain, the analysis is certainly quite interesting.

“I feel that as Western societies we generally tend to label and marginalise mental illness instead of seeing it as a rather normal reaction to extreme and abnormal circumstances,” Atasoy added in his interview with PsyPost.


“I think this study was an important step towards understanding the effect of LSD, and potentially other psychedelics, in terms of energy, frequency and the repertoire of brain states.”


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