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The Neurophysiological Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms
Magic mushrooms’ spores are a popular research tool among mycologists. But what about the psilocybin these fruiting bodies contain? In recent years, scientists have uncovered its potential applications in psychology, psychiatry, and even physical health.
It’s still a new field of research but neurophysiologists are also sitting up and taking notice. Can this psychedelic chemical unlock new ways of healing?
In this blog, we take a deep dive into how this mind-altering compound affects the brain. We also explore its possible use in treating neurological disorders and what the latest research shows.
But first, let’s unravel the science of neurophysiology.
What is Neurophysiology, Anyway?
Neurophysiology is a branch of neuroscience focusing on nervous system (NS) function. This network of nerves sends messages between the brain and body. It’s categorized into two parts:
- The central nervous system (CNS) encompassing the brain and spinal cord.
- The peripheral nervous system (PNS) comprising the rest of the nerves in the body.
A professional working primarily with the brain and nervous system is a neurologist. Doctors who focus on NS disorders are neurophysiologists.
This area focuses on the study, monitoring, and diagnosis of neurological conditions and diseases related to NS function, such as:
- Motor neuron disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Tourette’s syndrome
Psilocybin is a popular research topic in treating conditions like depression and anxiety. But how does this chemical compound actually affect the brain? What are its neurophysiological effects? Let’s find out.
The Brain on Psilocybin Mushrooms
The above visualization by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface depicts the brain connections in someone on psilocybin on the right (b). The left (a) image shows the contrast of neural communication in a person given a placebo.
Like studying magic mushroom spores under a microscope, observing the brain on psilocybin can reveal deeper truths. Scientists still have many unanswered questions but various studies shed light on this hallucinogen’s neurophysiological effects.
Researchers are conceptualizing psychedelic‐assisted psychotherapy for a growing number of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders.
Below are some major science-backed effects of psilocybin on the brain and its potential neurophysiological applications.
Psilocybin Can Reset the Brain’s Default Mode Network
The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a connection of neuron groups and brain regions vital to normal, everyday consciousness.
Irregular DMN activity has been linked to various mental, physical, and neurological health conditions including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Chronic pain
Neuroimaging research has shown that psychedelics like psilocybin can significantly reduce, stimulate, and disrupt DMN connectivity. This fact is often correlated with mystical experiences but may also indicate neurological benefits.
The fruiting bodies of magic mushroom spores have massive therapeutic potential linked to this “resetting” of the DMN. As such, evidence shows psilocybin may be effective in treating conditions like:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Treatment-resistant depression
- Functional neurological disorders
More research is needed but the current findings look promising.
Magic Mushrooms Can Improve Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of neurons to change their characteristics during a lifetime. Thoughts, emotions, experiences, and behaviors can affect this capability.
Neurons make connections with each other via electrical or chemical signals in the brain. The location and strength of these associations are linked to cognition; the way one thinks.
Studies suggest that psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms improve neuroplasticity, which runs parallel to its therapeutic effects; even potentially underlying them.
What does this mean for neurophysiology? Neuroplasticity can help repair developmental disorders, restore brain function, and treat neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, and more.
Psilocybin Can Alter Functional Connectivity Between Brain Regions
The brain’s claustrum region exchanges signals with much of the cortex, which is responsible for complex thought and higher reasoning.
Researchers at the University of Maryland hypothesize that the claustrum acts like a high-speed internet router. It coordinates the “networks” generated by executive commands taken from “boss” areas of the cerebral cortex.
These connections work together to perform cognitive tasks in everyday life.
Psilocybin partially binds to and activates the serotonin 2a (5-HT2A) receptor. It’s been shown to play a vital role in claustrum function.
The research indicates that this psychedelic compound alters claustrum connectivity with the various brain networks that support cognition and perception.
As such, it’s receiving renewed scientific attention for its possible efficacy in treating various mental illnesses and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Psilocybin and Functional Neurological Disorders (FNDs)
Psilocybin’s ability to improve neuroplasticity, alter connectivity between brain regions, and affect the DMN may assist in treating FNDs.
Functional neurological disorders are common neuropsychiatric conditions with limited treatment options. They often present with motor or sensory symptoms that may emulate other neurophysiological conditions.
FNDs tend to occur via mechanisms unrelated to neuropathology. In many cases, they seem to be triggered by psychological factors. Preliminary evidence suggests that psilocybin-assisted therapy could be the answer.
The fruiting bodies produced by magic mushroom spores may improve the poor prognosis of FNDs, although more research is required.
Magic Mushrooms: From Spores to Neurological Exploration
Psilocybin mushrooms have wide-ranging cerebral effects, which may explain their potential therapeutic benefits.
From improved neuroplasticity and altered functional connectivity to resetting the DMN, this psychedelic affects the brain in profound ways.
The field of neurophysiology is only starting to scratch the surface, but more research is slowly emerging. That said, psilocybin remains federally illegal.
Until the laws change, researchers can get high-quality magic mushroom spores from our online store to study under their microscopes.
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.