Reinventing Creativity with Psychedelics • Microdose

When travel becomes reality

Long considered by the general public to be dangerous, or “problem childrenby their creators or discoverers, psychedelics have proven to be more “wonderful” than society could ever have imagined when they were banned in the 1970s.

Lately, more and more users are recognizing the potential of these drugs to enhance creativity; among them, some of the greatest minds of the last century have attributed the making of their most famous works to mystical and eye-opening experiences on psychedelic journeys.

But how are psychedelics connected to brain mechanisms to create creativity?

What is the evidence of their beneficial effects on creative processes?

And, more importantly, could these drugs help scientists grasp the nature of consciousness?

We’ll dive into older and newer research, just like sleuths, looking for one of the most mysterious and striking aspects of psychedelic research. But first, before this full immersion, let’s outline some crucial information about creativity.

Creativity: what it is and how to measure it

Creativity, the ability to generate new forms of work, concepts or ideashas always been the turbo in the engine of the evolution of humanity, allowing us to develop and improve our lifestyle, as well as to externalize our inner nature through forms of expression like figurative art , literature, music.

the brilliant red thread linking creativity and consciousness required psychologists to develop tests and scales to measure it. We can watch the Torrance or Minnesota Creative Thinking Tests and Mednick’s Remote Associates Testboth used in the 1960s-1970s to assess creativity in students.

These tests involved verbal and non-verbal tasks to measure two types of cognitive skills used in problem solving, divergent and convergent thinking (the former being more related to creativity).

The first investigations of creativity induced by psychedelics

At that time (the 1960s), with the growing popularity of psychedelics among the younger generation, users began to see and share the beneficial effects of these drugs on their creative abilities.

For this reason, researchers have begun to study how psychedelic administration can lead to “higher cognitive states” by driving 4 studies in which LSD and mescaline were administered to graduate students and professionals. Participants were then tested with creativity tests, personality assessments, and association tasks, among which were the previously mentioned tests (Mednick’s Remote Associates test, in particular).

In all studies, parameters characterizing creative states of mind, such as open-mindedness, problem-solving, and word-association abilities, increased in a large majority of participants after the psychedelic trip. Unfortunately, this was completely stopped by the classification of psychedelics as Class I drugs in 1971which buried the results under a thick layer of dust for decades.

However, psychedelic research pioneer Roland Griffith and his team at Johns Hopkins University conducted a similar study on psilocybin, and their results confirmed (unsurprisingly) what had been shown nearly 50 years earlier.

Famous trippers and their masterpieces

Despite the abrupt halt to psychedelic research in 1971, the concept of these substances as “creativity enhancers” was kept alive by the most famous (and unlikely) users, geniuses, and artists. !) who attributed their works and deeds to their personal experience with hallucinogens.

It’s no secret that one of the Beatles’ most prized albums, Revolver, was influenced by psychedelic journeys, as well as the famous book The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, centered on the author’s experience with mescaline.

Even the most unlikely inventions and creations have most likely been inspired by psychedelics, from Steve Job’s technological devices at The surreal films of David Lynch.

But the administration of psychoactive substances for creative purposes is not as new as one might think. Hallucinogenic trips probably contributed to the development of older central philosophical thoughts by cardinal authors in the history of Western philosophy, from ancient Greek Plato to the first romantic Nietzsche.

But which areas of the brain “light up” when given psychedelics, explaining increased creativity, and is it as widespread as it seems?

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Mechanisms triggered by psychedelics to enhance creativity

Although the exact brain mechanisms explaining how psychedelics affect creativity are still unclear, the entropic brain theory may be the key to this mystery.

According to this modelproposed by Robin Cahart-Harris, director of the Center for Psychedelics Research at Imperial College London, psychoactive substances act on the Default Mode Network or Imagination Network, a brain network that is active when we are not performing any activity.

This is localized to areas of the brain like the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex and angular gyrusand it is commonly associated with the negative thinking and rumination seen in depression.

We can imagine the neural patterns making the network in default mode like deep streaks in the snow, constantly traversed by our thoughts. Psychedelics are thought to “erase” such patterns, giving a chance for “paths in the snow” or new, healthier thoughts to form.

This The “remodeling process” probably broadens our thinking, makes us more open-minded and, therefore, creative.

The future of psychedelics in the study of creativity

As author Aldous Huxley has pointed out in an interviewthe influence of psychedelics on creativity depends greatly on the individual and the circumstances, rather than simply the administration of the substance itself.

However, recent studies on the effects of LSD and psilocybin on creativity have shown that inferior and micro doses psychedelics can enhance creative thinking, suggesting that the cognitive and creative abilities of most users can benefit from the administration of these substances, with the right dose and in an appropriate context (setting and settings).

Today, this power to stimulate creativity is gradually approaching the heart of psychedelic studies. More and more researchers are determined to discover the nature of consciousness, which is closely linked to the creative processes occurring in the brain. Thanks to the current revival of psychedelics, the scientific community has a good chance of tracking this microscopic needle into such a huge haystack.

And after all, besides the curious and fascinating research into the nature of consciousness, who knows what new geniuses psychedelics might inspire in 30 years?

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Editor’s Note

This piece is part of a series produced by guest contributors to expand voices on our site and in the wider conversation. Although Microdose supports the education and exploration of these topics, the facts and opinions presented in this work are solely those of the author.