LSD activates language ‘meaning’ networks

This study, conducted as part of the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, was the first in over forty years to investigate how LSD affects language.

Participants completed a picture-naming task after receiving either LSD or a placebo. Under LSD people were more likely to incorrectly name an object, instead giving answers that carried a similar meaning to the pictures they were looking at. For example, they displayed a greater tendency to say ‘hand’ when viewing a picture of an arm.

The study authors authors interpret this phenomenon to be a result of an activation of ‘semantic networks’ – collections of related concepts that are stored in the brain’s language and meaning centres – under LSD, and suggest that this may have implications for psychotherapy by enabling patients to make new associations between memories in order to reframe life events and see them in a new light.

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