By Amanda Froelich
Thanks to researchers at John Hopkins University and brave participants willing to share their experiences taking psychedelic substances, such as peyote and psilocybin (also referred to as truffles or magic mushrooms), we now know that responsible use of the plants may improve a wide range of conditions. For instance, a handful of studies have concluded that psilocybin can benefit anxiety, depression, and even OCD behavior. This established, it should come as no surprise that fresh research suggests the consumption of small amounts of psilocybin may heighten creativity.
The first-of-its-kind small-scale study was led by a team of researchers from Leiden University, in the Netherlands. As reported in the journal Psychopharmacology, their aim was to determine the cognitive-enhancing effects of micro-dosing (consuming only a portion of a regular dose) in a natural setting.
The team began their research by looking into how a micro-dose of magic mushrooms (psilocybin or truffles) affected the brains of 36 people at an event organized by the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands. Participants received a one-off dose of 0.37 grams (0.01 ounces) of dried psilocybin. Afterward, they were asked to solve three puzzles.
As IFLScience reports, the researchers claim to have noticed subtle profound changes to the group. Buzzing from a small portion of truffle, party-goers seemed to drift through the puzzle-solving tasks with ease. They seemed to naturally conjure creative solutions to the puzzles in a more flexible manner than before they micro-dosed. The study authors referred to this phenomena as “changes in fluid intelligence.”
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“Our results suggest that consuming a microdose of truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking,” said lead author Luisa Prochazkova of Leiden University in the Netherlands in a statement. “Moreover, we also observed an improvement in convergent thinking, that is, increased performance on a task that requires the convergence on one single correct or best solution.”
The reason this study is so compelling is that anecdotes have pointed to this same finding for years. Because the pros and cons of ingesting magic mushrooms are not fully known, however, it will be years before the fungi is decriminalized and allowed for public use — if ever.
“Apart from its benefits as a potential cognitive enhancement technique, microdosing could be further investigated for its therapeutic efficacy to help individuals who suffer from rigid thought patterns or behavior such as individuals with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Prochazkova explained.
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