The hallucination machine gives users a drug-free travel experience


It's a psychedelic trip, without the psychedelics.

Scientists have created a machine that produces vivid hallucinations that mimic the powerful experience of taking magical mushrooms.

Researchers at the Sackler Center for Consciousness Sciences at the University of Susbad in England made the virtual reality experience, the hallucination machine, to study how the brain processes the world and how that differs from reality and is in a altered state of consciousness without having to give drugs to test subjects.

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Using virtual reality, the participants are immersed in a modified version of Google's DeepDream, a computer program designed to improve patterns in images that they produce hallucinogenic results, as they walk the campus of the university.

 Psychedelic [19659007] Psychedelic art. Drugs such as LSD and ketamine cause the brain to enter a "higher state of consciousness," according to a new study. </span> <span clbad= chiaralily / Flicrk

The twelve volunteers evaluated reported visual hallucinations similar to those experienced after taking psychedelics, especially psilocybin, the ingredient in magic mushrooms that causes users to trip, according to the results published on November 22 in Scientific Reports .

While the machine can simulate hallucinations, it will not give users the skewed sense of time that often comes with the use of psychedelics, the report found.

Research on the brain in psychedelics is still in its early stages, but the machine "provides a powerful new tool to complement the resurgence of research in altered states of consciousness," the report says.

The team is celebrating the use of virtual reality to better understand the brain and says that the use of the tool has just begun.

"The potential of VR in neuroscience is huge and it's just beginning, and in five years, it's going to change the game," said Sailler Center co-director Anil Seth.

This is not the first time technology is used to explore altered states of consciousness: neuroscientist Dr. Michael Persinger created the "helmet God" in the 1980s to study how the brain experiences higher states of consciousness.

And in April, brain scans found that people who take LSD, psilocybin and ketamine experience "intense states of consciousness."

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