WHAT HALLUCINOGENS DO TO THE BRAIN
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What Hallucinogens do to the Brain
Hallucinogenic drugs are best known for how they alter the user’s brain. Let’s take a general look at those effects. Note that researchers have yet to pinpoint exactly how hallucinogens work, and that not all hallucinogenic drugs work on the user’s brain in the same way. There are two main types, though both types affect neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are naturally-occurring brain chemicals that communicate information throughout the user’s brain and body. Different neurotransmitters have different jobs. For example, one type of neurotransmitter tells your lungs to breathe, and another type tells your stomach to growl when you’re hungry.
Classic hallucinogens, like LSD, affect serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps control functions such as behavior, mood and perception. LSD and similar drugs over-stimulate serotonin, flooding the brain with signals that mimic psychosis and breakdown the user’s inhibitions. Because LSD agitates the parts of the brain that control mood and perception, it sometimes causes the user to experience sensory crossover. Some users report ‘hearing’ colors or ‘seeing’ sounds. Users often experience an unfiltered stream of memories and emotions.
Other hallucinogens, like PCP, influence the body’s use of glutamate. This is a neurotransmitter that affects functions such as pain perception, learning and memory. Specifically, these hallucinogens are thought to interrupt, or block, the reception of glutamate. This means the user temporarily cannot receive the communication glutamate is sending. PCP was originally used medically as a painkiller and anesthetic. It’s known as a dissociative drug because it can cause the user to feel detached from his or her surroundings. You can see why this feeling is sometimes described as a ‘numbing effect’ on the mind.
See Also : Hallucinogenic Drugs List
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