To what extent can psychedelics push the boundaries of our understanding of consciousness

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists continue to study how psychedelic drugs and experiences alter our perception of reality, and new research suggests that seeing consciousness in inanimate objects is one of the long-term effects.

Based on self-reports obtained in an online survey from 1,606 participants who said they had at least one psychedelic experience that changed their beliefs, the researchers assessed how conscious they perceive living and non-living beings in the world around them.

On average, belief in the consciousness of non-living and inanimate objects increased significantly after the psychedelic experience: Volunteers reported seeing more consciousness in everything from rocks to chairs.

“This study shows that when beliefs change after a psychedelic experience, the attribution of consciousness to different entities tends to increase,” says psychiatrist Sandeep Nayak of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in Baltimore.

“It’s not clear why, whether it could be an innate effect of drugs, cultural factors, or psychedelics might somehow uncover innate cognitive biases that attribute mental characteristics to the world.”

Study participants rated their feelings based on the psychedelic experience that “led to the biggest belief change” in their lives. The experiences were the result of taking so-called classic psychedelic substances, including psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and ayahuasca.

For those who experienced an episode that changed their beliefs, the attribution of consciousness for inanimate natural objects increased from an average of 8 to 26 percent, and for inanimate human-made objects from 3 to 15 percent.

People also reported seeing consciousness in plants (from 26% to 61%), fungi (from 21% to 56%), and insects (from 33% to 57%) more often. The changes appear to be widespread and may continue long after the experience.

The study participants averaged 35 years of age and were predominantly white (89 percent of participants), male (67 percent of participants), and US residents (69 percent of participants).

“On average, participants indicated that the experience that changed their beliefs happened eight years prior to participating in the survey, so changes in beliefs may be long-term,” Nyack says.

Psychedelics are well known for causing visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as altering the perception of individual consciousness.

One way such research could be useful is through the development of psychedelics as treatments for disorders such as depression and addiction, as well as mental health issues where the brain needs to be reprogrammed in some way. There are also indications that controlled, controlled use of psychedelics can improve our physical health as well.

The research also touches on a question that has been debated by scientists and philosophers for centuries: the nature of consciousness itself, which is notoriously a difficult concept to study and explore.

“The findings suggesting that a single psychedelic experience can lead to a broad increase in the attribution of consciousness to other things raises intriguing questions about possible innate or experiential mechanisms underlying such belief changes,” says psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. John Hopkins.

“The subject of consciousness is a notoriously difficult scientific problem that has led many to conclude that it is unsolvable.”

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