Be transformative

We’re not averse to exploring aestheticism in Weekender-land; after all, fundamentally all art is in and of itself a transformative and/or an immersive experience; meditation and dreams are desirable altered states of consciousness and beer nice to drink in safe quantities.

Apropos of nothing in particular, we were intrigued to note that Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore has been engaged in a study that suggests that magic mushrooms change people’s personalities for the better.

The study involved giving 51 people either psilocybin – the active hallucinogen in the mushrooms – or a placebo in up to five separate sessions.

The subjects then lied down and listened to music while focusing on what the Independent called an ‘inner experience.’

After each session, the personalities were analysed. It found that 30 had a mystical experience. This pointed toward increased openness, which is associated with imagination, artistic appreciation, feelings, abstract ideas and a broad-minded outlook. These effects remained higher a year after the experience.

Roland Griffiths, one of the study’s authors and a professor of psychiatry and behavioural science at the university, said that this was ‘unprecedented’.

“Psilocybin can facilitate experiences that change how people perceive themselves and their environment,” he said, stating the obvious somewhat.

Meditating

marmosets, Batman

Talking of altered states, marmosets have been trained to meditate. Not too much surprise to find out that it’s the Dutch Biomedical Primate Research Centre that’s leading this neuro-feedback experiment. Basically this lets the marmosets see their brain activity on a special screen and therefore understand what kind of thoughts achieve certain states. Marmosets being pretty clever – and bribable with marshmallows – meant that they picked up the techniques pretty quickly.

Other amazing science comes from Richard Benton, a Swiss researcher studying aphrodisiac foods. According to his study published in Nature, rotting fruit smells turned on fruit flies like nobody’s business. This pointed to an evolutionary link between feeding and reproduction as one of the pathways had previously been shown to regulate sexual behaviour. Can’t help thinking that spending years conducting minging research on rotting fruit and buzzing horrible little flies is enough to drive you to drink.

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