Functional neuroimaging of psychedelic experience: An overview of psychological and neural effects and their relevance to research on creativity, daydreaming, and dreaming

The neural correlates of the psychedelic experience are increasingly being investigated with noninvasive functional neuroimaging methods. This research has now provided a preliminary understanding of the neural substrates of various stages and contents of psychedelic experience, elucidating how various stages differ from one another, and also relate to kindred “altered” states of consciousness such as dreaming and creative thinking. Several conclusions can be gleaned from this review. First, psychedelic experiences involving strong visual hallucinatory components activate the same brain areas as “natural” altered states involving high rates of visual imagery, most notably daydreaming and nighttime dreaming. Second, peak psychedelic experiences involving loss of the sense of the self or “ego-dissolution” involve deactivation or disintegration of brain networks, most notably the default mode network, that are widely thought to maintain and subserve an internal stream of thoughts and a coherent sense of self.


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