What's the neurochemical impact of magic mushrooms? It acts as a serotonin receptor agonist and mimics the effects of this transmitter in the brain.
Over the last decade, there have been various new findings regarding these fungi. Many of the discoveries come from the field of brain imaging research, conducted using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI).
There are still many mysteries regarding these incredible mushrooms. Let’s dive in and learn more about what causes the psychedelic effects they induce.
Why do magic mushrooms cause hallucinogenic experiences? The answer lies in a unique compound called psilocybin.
The chemical occurs naturally in certain mushroom species and is structurally quite similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin. It’s a tryptamine alkaloid, and once the body absorbs this compound, it breaks down and produces psilocin.
Once this new chemical gets released, the psychedelic effects occur. The way each individual reacts differs, but the substance typically induces changes in the:
The compound may also bring about euphoria or a reported spiritual experience. Some studies suggest that the effects are similar to the sensations of a deep meditative state.
Why do these types of effects occur? To fully explain, we first need to look at the way various parts of the brain function. When the psilocybin gets absorbed by the body, it gets converted into psilocin.
The compound then binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain. More specifically, it acts on the 5-HT2A ones. It’s this bond that leads to the psychoactive experience.
When the psilocin connects with certain receptors, it causes an increase in activity in certain areas of the brain. One affected area is the visual cortex, a part typically associated with sensory processing.
The hallucinogenic experience occurs because of this increased activity. Other reactions include visual distortions and a different perception of space and time.
Many other parts of the brain get affected by psilocin. Another example is the default mode network (DMN), a disruption in this section also contributes to the psychedelic effects.
When psilocin binds with the serotonin receptors, it may also trigger the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine or glutamate. These contribute to the psychoactive experience even more.
The exact effects these fungi induce depend on the individual’s physiological traits. More research needs to be conducted to determine why the experiences have variations.
Studies about the neurochemical impact of psilocybin and psilocin's impact on the body are only anecdotal. Because the substance is controlled, it’s challenging to conduct the necessary research on a large scale, which leaves many variables open.
Some of the most recent discoveries about these compounds’ neurochemistry come from brain imaging research. In 2012 the first FMRI findings to be published explained that psilocybin reduced activity in certain areas of the brain.
Two affected parts of the default mode network include the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. The study showed that when the latter was less active, participants reported more intense psychoactive effects.
These parts of the default mode network typically have strong connectivity to each other. When psilocybin gets introduced, the regular integration of the two reduces.
On the other hand, the FMRI study found that more connectivity occurs in other parts of the brain such as the dorsal attention network. The region involves how people perceive the external environment and how individuals attend to different objects in their visual field.
With the introduction of psilocybin, the default mode network and the dorsal attention network become more connected. The study suggests that this integration may cause a blurring of the individual's perception of the external world and their internal memories.
Psilocybin also impacts the hippocampus. This part of the brain is associated with memories. The compound increases erratic activity in this region which researchers speculate may alter thought patterns.
Studies from a different data set found that the persisting brain connections in a psilocybin state are higher than usual. These integrations take place between various hub regions.
Essentially, this means more information sharing occurs, but the distinct function of these thoughts is blurred. There's consensus among researchers that brain activity and connectivity increase with the compound, but there are certain points of contention.
One of these is which regions are impacted the most. Some studies at the University of Zurich reveal an increase in connectivity in sensory and perception sections, while there were fewer integrations with high-level networks.
On the Other hand, research conducted at Imperial College London showed the opposite results. In these findings, sensory networks had less activity and connectivity than high-level networks.
The reasons for the discrepancy vary from dosage, technicalities in data collection, and the controversial analysis technique called global signal regression.
Future studies may focus on finding more consistency, with a larger number of participants.
The active compound in magic mushrooms has a profound neurochemical effect on the body because of its ability to bind to serotonin receptors.
This impacts cognitive functions, sensory processing, and moods. There's still much to learn about these fungi and psilocybin, and researchers believe that many breakthroughs may occur in the next decade.
Are you eager to discover more about these mushrooms and their intriguing compounds? Visit FungusHead for more exciting and educational information.
All of the content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.