LSD has always been known for its psychological effects, but a recent study suggests that the substance can easily blur the line between ourselves and others.
Why Test LSD?
People with severe mental disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, often have problems trying to separate themselves from other people.
Scientists have searched for a drug that could be used to treat these symptoms in patients. Researchers at the University Hospital of Psychiatry in Zurich in Switzerland were determined to discover a potential treatment.
"Healthy people take having this coherent 'self' experience for granted," psychologist Katrin Preller, one of the lead authors of the study, told Live Science, "which makes it difficult to explain why it's so important."
Preller added that LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is one of the few substances that can be used in their research to alter someone's sense of self.
What The Researchers Did
The researchers gave 24 healthy human participants — 18 men and six women — either a placebo, LSD or a combination of LSD with an inhibitor drug known as ketanserin. Providing the participants in the study with drugs was only part of the research.
After consumption of the substance, the participants were given video goggles and placed inside MRA machines. At this point, participants attempted to look at a digital avatar and at other things that the avatar was also looking at.
After conducting the experiments, researchers determined that the LSD resulted in reduced activity in both the posterior cingulate cortex and the temporal cortex. These are the parts of the brain that are responsible for self-processing and social cognition.
The researchers published their findings in the March 19 publication of Journal of Neuroscience.
"The administration of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging and real-time eye-tracking offers the unique opportunity to study alterations in self-experience, their relation to social cognition, and the underlying neuropharmacology," the researchers wrote.
The data proved that LSD can change the way that a person interacts with other people by altering basic social cognition processing.
Furthermore, the data from the research showed the potential of ketanserin. This substance inhibits changes to the 2A receptor and altered the impact of LSD. In future cases, patients can benefit from either blocking or stimulating the receptor, depending on someone's mental disorder. More testing will be required to determine if there are any practical uses.