Psychedelic research is on the cutting edge of cognitive neuroscience.
Actually, psychedelic research seems to be the cutting edge of a lot of science right now. Yes, you’ve heard it before, psychedelic renaissance and all that. But, slow down for a second and consider that this mass of psychedelic science, neuroscience and all the rest, and that mainstream cultural upswing it’s inviting wasn’t always on trending.
It has taken a lot of dedicated work by a lot of courageous people to put themselves and their careers on the line to effort towards the legitimization of psychedelic science. Thanks to them, mentioning the scientific or therapeutic value of psychedelics in academia is not akin to career suicide anymore. In fact, the opposite may even be true for psychedelic therapy at this point.
So who do we have to thank for this? Well, a lot of people, back decades, both scientists and outlaws and those straddling the middle. But, there is one person we can thank for the current repertoire of fMRI studies on the psychedelic brain, and he is the guest for this episode of the podcast.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris heads the Psychedelic Research Group within the Centre for Psychiatry at Imperial College London, where he has designed a number of functional brain imaging (fMRI) studies with psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, MDMA (ecstasy) and DMT (ayahuasca), plus a clinical trial of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. He has over 50 published papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals; two of which were ranked in the top 100 most impactful academic articles of 2016. Robin’s research has featured in major national and international media and he has given a popular TEDx talk.
Dr. Carhart-Harris joins us on Adventures Through The Mind to talk about the Entropic Brain (and mind) theory, complexity vs. order, the disproportionate representation of ‘ego’ consciousness in modern civilisation and its impact on the natural world, confirmation biases and misreporting in psychedelic science and, of course, how psychedelics work in the brain.
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***See below for a complete topic breakdown.***
- An introductory primer on the entropic brain theory
- free energy principle, thermal dynamics, complexity science, and brain activity
- LZ/complexity and the varieties of consciousness states
- the importance of indexing the ‘mind stuff’ in psychedelic research
- Natural language analytics, mental illness, and how we narratives our psychedelic encounters
- primary and secondary states of mind, and
- Brain development and comparing psychedelic mind to the mind of a child
- ego consciousness, psilocybin, and the collapse of civilization
- REBUS and the resistance of uncertainty
- A little talk about trauma and psychotherapy
- A discussion around ‘Is there a confirmation bias in psychedelic neuroscience?’
- Deconstructing the fallacy of physicalist neuroscience
- The (very specific) neuroscience of psilocybin
- What psilocybin does when it gets into the body
- the neocortex and serotonin receptors
- psilocybin’s effects on neural cellular behaviour
- Is psilocybin intelligent?
- Mapping brain anarchy
- What turns psilocybin into psilocin
- Psilocybin effect on and in the gut (enteric brain)
- Are there any genetic variations that could block psychedelics’ effects?
- “There will never be an account of reality that will be absolute.”
“The Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial focuses on two main research areas: 1) the action of psychedelic drugs in the brain, and 2) their clinical utility, e.g. as aides to psychotherapy, with a particular focus on depression. The group is led by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris.” Follow Imperial PRG on twitter
Here are the two SCIAM articles about misreporting and cognitive biases that we mentioned during the interview:
- Misreporting and Confirmation Bias in Psychedelic Research
- What Psychedelic Research Can and Cannot Tell Us about Consciousness
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