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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2002 Jul-Sep;34(3):263-72.

The serotonergic system and mysticism: could LSD and the nondrug-induced mystical experience share common neural mechanisms?

Author information

1
Bioelectrostatics Research Centre, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. goodman_neil@hotmail.com

Abstract

This article aims to explore, through established scientific research and documented accounts of personal experience, the similarities between religious mystical experiences and some effects of D-lysergic diethylamide or LSD. LSD predominantly works upon the serotonergic (serotonin-using neurons) diffuse neuromodulatory system, which projects its axons to virtually all areas of the brain including the neocortex. By its normal action it modulates awareness of the environmental surroundings and filters a high proportion of this information before it can be processed, thereby only allowing the amount of information that is necessary for survival. LSD works to open this filter, and so an increased amount of somatosensory data is processed with a corresponding increase in what is deemed important. This article describes the effects and actions of LSD, and due to the similarities with the nondrug-induced mystical experience the author proposes that the two could have common modes of action upon the brain. This could lead to avenues of research into mysticism and a wealth of knowledge on consciousness and how we perceive the universe.

PMID:
12422936
DOI:
10.1080/02791072.2002.10399962
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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