A recent study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, discovered that taking magic mushrooms could cause an increase of consciousness which lasts for up to a week at a time.
Luckily, the severe, mind-altering effects of the mischievous mycelia wear off after some hours. Thus, giving way to indirect, and possibly highly useful, after-effects.
Specifically, the scientists found that individuals who had drunk tea made from hallucinatory mushrooms showed boosts in both understanding and creative thinking. Moreover, this cognitive expansion persisted for seven days.
What did the study find?
To obtain these outcomes, the research team directed a battery of mental tests to participants. These tests were conducted on the day before, the day after, and one week after their mushroom experience.
These intellectual tasks were planned to test for two different creativity aspects like convergent and divergent thinking. Convergent thinking denotes the process of taking in a large amount of information to come up with a single solution to a complex challenge. While divergent thinking comprises creating a multitude of options from a small amount of info.
Fascinatingly, outcomes exposed that the capacity of participants for divergent thinking was meaningfully increased the day after taking mushrooms. While advances in convergent thinking only became obvious after a week.
Moreover, empathy levels were significantly improved throughout this period. And this also associated with an intensification in overall life satisfaction.
Psilocybin is an active compound found in magic mushrooms. It is currently being studied as a possible depression treatment. It contained numerous small-scale trials having previously yielded positive outcomes. These research findings could shed light on the mechanisms by which psilocybin aids to lessen psychological and emotional suffering.
Researchers explained that those who suffer from depression tend to show decreased “creative, flexible discerning and understanding,”. And tend to get caught in tedious and inflexible patterns of undesirable and obsessive thoughts.
A preceding study has revealed already how psilocybin, LSD, and other psychedelics distressed the traditional cognition patterns and produce freer, more flexible cognition modes. These modes of cognition could support people to break out of these undesirable thought loops.
According to the researchers, prolonged psilocybin effects could open up a “window of opportunity” during which it may be probable to develop “novel and effective cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies.”
Limitations of the study
Moreover, the rise in empathic ability may improve the efficiency of psychotherapy by aiding patients to relate to therapists with greater trust and directness.
However, the researchers concede that the absence of placebo control, and the circumstance that only 55 participants were recruited – of which merely 22 took part in the seven-day follow-up. This shows that the weight of their outcomes is rather limited.
The proper mechanism of how psilocybin is generating these changes is not known yet. But it will require further research.
The scientists believe that in understanding the mechanism of the drug for briefly re-wiring the brain and altering mood, it could possibly be operated into making a useful treatment for depression or other disorders. Nevertheless, there is much more to be learned before it can be used.