Recent research on LSD indicates the drug has potential to treat mental disorders and improve our understanding of human consciousness. Meanwhile, studies in recent years have explored the effects of psilocybin—the psychoactive compound occurring naturally in magic mushrooms—on quitting smoking; lowering violent crime; treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and triggering spiritual epiphanies.
Now, an Oct. 25 study in Pharmacology—the official journal of the European Behavioral Pharmacology Society—adds to this growing body of knowledge. It examines another potential benefit of psilocybin. Researchers from Leiden University in The Netherlands studied the cognitive effects of micro-dosing psilocybin truffles (technically not mushrooms, but instead the hardened vegetative part of a fungus). They found that tiny doses can stimulate brain function and boost creativity without harming reasoning abilities.
Microdoses contain about 10% of the psychoactive components of a standard dose of psilocybin. The idea is to get the benefits but not the downsides of the drug, minimal effects that can stimulate thinking but not lead to extremes, like hallucinations.
For this study, the researchers tested the effects of about .035 grams of a psychoactive truffle on 36 subjects. (They later did a chemical composition analysis of the truffles to make sure psilocybin was evenly distributed throughout the truffles.) They investigated three types of thinking by presenting the subjects with different three tasks—developed by psychologists to test cognition—which was performed both before and after ingesting the drug. The scientists studied subjects’ convergent thought, which involves identifying a single solution for a single problem; their fluid intelligence, or reasoning and problem-solving; and their divergent thinking, the ability to recognize many solutions.
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