Researchers have completed the first ever placebo-controlled trial of the effects of hallucinogenic DMT on dormant brain activity, according to a new study.
Dimethyltryptamine is a psychedelic drug, known as the active ingredient in the ayahuasca brew. Previous research has studied ayahuasca, but there are not many examples of controlled laboratory experiments on the DMT molecule itself. These new results show how the molecule works on the brain and provides a signature of brainwaves that look a lot like a waking dream.
"These are interesting rhythms, we also find them when we dream or during different sleep stages," Christopher Timmermann, the study's first author from Imperial College, London, told Gizmodo. "There is an interesting similarity that could point to a common mechanism these states can have."
The team tested seven men and six women, all of whom had taken hallucinogen before. They each volunteered for brainwave measuring electroencephalogram electrodes, or EEG. Each participant received an intravenous injection of either DMT or placebo, and then assessed how intense their journey was once per minute for 20 m inuter after receiving the dose while and the researchers took data . A participant's EEG data was not included because they moved too much during the experiment .
Brain cell collections produce oscillating signals and produce regular activity waves in multiple frequency bands, including, in low to high frequency order: delta, theta, alpha, beta, low gamma and high gamma. These frequencies are linked to different functions, but exactly how is it for interpretation. Such a frequency, the alpha frequency, is more common when our eyes are closed and less common when they are open. The subjects at DMT showed significantly less alpha and beta activity but more different kinds of signals more generally than those who had received the placebo injection, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.
These results revealed that DMT users experienced brain wave patterns as if they were in a waking dream, Timmermann said . This is consistent with a previous, non-placebo controlled study of smoked DMT, a study of ayahuasca consumed as a tea and research on other psychedelics, reports Ars Technica.
Understanding the effects of psychedelics is important because it can help us learn about the basics of neuroscience and brain function, Timmermann said. These drugs can induce different states of consciousness, other than being awake or dreaming, which is not well understood.
When it comes to applications, researchers are already researching potential medical applications of DMT. A recent placebo-controlled study in humans found that ayahuasca had antidepressant effects and another found similar mood-enhancing effects when giving rats microdoses of DMT .
More work needs to be done to look more closely at some of the wave patterns that researchers observed and see if they contain any further significance. Researchers will continue to explore these new areas of consciousness, the impact of these states on our well-being. According to the essay: "By observing what is lost and achieved when consciousness passes in extreme ways, psychedelic neuroscience promises to enrich our knowledge and appreciation of the relationships between the brain and brain in the widest range of contexts, while inspiring yet countless applications." [1