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Exploring the Neurophysiological Impact of Psilocybin

image of various brain scans

Mushroom spores are a popular research tool among mycologists. But what about the compounds these fruiting bodies contain? In recent years, scientists have uncovered potential applications of certain mushrooms 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 these substances unlock new ways of healing?

In this blog, we take a deep dive into how these compounds affect the brain. We also explore their 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:

  1. The central nervous system (CNS) encompassing the brain and spinal cord.
  2. 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
  • Narcolepsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Dementia
  • Meningitis
  • Strokes

Certain compounds found in mushrooms are a popular research topic in treating conditions like depression and anxiety. But how do these substances actually affect the brain? What are their neurophysiological effects? Let’s find out.

The Brain on Certain Mushroom Compounds

visualization of the brain connections in someone on psilocybin

The above visualization by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface depicts the brain connections in someone under the influence of a mushroom compound on the right (b). The left (a) image shows the contrast of neural communication in a person given a placebo.

Like studying mushroom spores under a microscope, observing the brain under the influence of certain compounds can reveal deeper truths. Scientists still have many unanswered questions, but various studies shed light on these substances’ neurophysiological effects.

Researchers are conceptualizing assisted psychotherapy using certain compounds for a growing number of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders.

Below are some major science-backed effects of these compounds on the brain and their potential neurophysiological applications.

Certain Compounds 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 depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, chronic pain, and autism.
  • Neuroimaging research has shown that certain compounds can significantly reduce, stimulate, and disrupt DMN connectivity. This fact is often correlated with profound experiences but may also indicate neurological benefits.
  • The fruiting bodies of certain mushrooms have massive therapeutic potential linked to this “resetting” of the DMN. As such, evidence shows these compounds may be effective in treating conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, treatment-resistant depression, and functional neurological disorders.
  • More research is needed, but the current findings look promising.

Certain 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 certain compounds found in mushrooms improve neuroplasticity, which runs parallel to their 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.

Certain Compounds 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.
  • Certain compounds partially bind to and activate the serotonin 2a (5-HT2A) receptor. It’s been shown to play a vital role in claustrum function.
  • The research indicates that these compounds alter claustrum connectivity with the various brain networks that support cognition and perception.
  • As such, they are receiving renewed scientific attention for their possible efficacy in treating various mental illnesses and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Certain Compounds and Functional Neurological Disorders (FNDs)

  • The ability of certain compounds 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 assisted therapy using certain compounds could be the answer.
  • The fruiting bodies produced by certain mushroom spores may improve the poor prognosis of FNDs, although more research is required.

From Spores to Neurological Exploration

underside of a mushroom, depicting the gills

Certain mushroom compounds have wide-ranging cerebral effects, which may explain their potential therapeutic benefits.

From improved neuroplasticity and altered functional connectivity to resetting the DMN, these substances profoundly affect the brain.

The field of neurophysiology is only starting to scratch the surface, but more research is slowly emerging. That said, many of these compounds remain 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 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 mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.


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