How LSD Permits Leaping Word Associations

Once a friend I used to regard as very intelligent told me that LSD made his senses extremely sharp and strong, so much so that one could hear people talk from a few miles away. I was astonished that he could be so delusional that his LSD trips were a reality for him, and I naturally lost quite a bit of respect towards his capacity to interpret life 🙂 However, I was intrigued as to the jumbling of one’s brain signals by this controversial drug, and I researched it a bit, to understand how it affects our brains.

Also called psychedelics, hallucinogens alter a person’s perception, mood and a slew of other mental processes. Research has suggested they primarily do their magic in the brain’s cortex, where the drugs activate specific receptors that are normally triggered by serotonin. In order to function, the cortex is integrating different signals, for example glutamate signals and serotonin signals. And what hallucinogens must be doing is they are disrupting this process so that sensory perception is altered by them.


And now, the first study* of LSD and language in decades finds that the drug makes similar concepts compete for attention. It may make it easier for the brain to access distantly related words, by activating certain language networks in the brain. This may explain the giant leaps and associations an LSD user can make from one word  to another. Then again, so does practicing meditation, for a first-timer 😉 However, I think this might also explain how my friend thought he developed superman hearing skills -his auditory sensors were gathering info from his leashless language networks.

The study didn’t address questions about the effect of the psychedelic drug on creativity or mental health, but could lead to new research in those areas.

In my opinion, nothing that alters the chemistry of our brains so drastically may be totally harmless. Take it from a person who has seen what too many puffs can do to her friends after some years of smoking pot -which is nothing compared to LSD.

*study published Aug. 18 in the journal Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, News Via: LiveScience


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