Microdosing is nothing new, especially to artists and those who are familiar with the term bio-hacking or have a general inclination towards tech. However, currently there hasn’t been any conclusive research conducted to prove the efficacy in the realm of cognitive enhancement and productivity. Many have also claimed that microdosing has helped to alleviate their symptoms of depression. Researcher Amanda Feilding wants to put this talk to the test, and scientifically test the potential of microdosing psychedelic substances such as psilocybin and LSD on our cognitive enhancement.
So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term microdosing, let me explain it in a little bit more detail. It is basically just as it sounds: taking a microdose which would be between five and ten percent of what would be considered an average or regular dose of any hallucinogenic substance, but most commonly LSD, mescaline (peyote), or psilocybin (magic mushrooms). You can read more about it here. A dose of this size won’t transport you into another dimension full of beautiful colours, imagery, shapes, self-awareness and insight per se, but it is supposedly enough to give you an increased sense of well-being and can open up your thought patterns to promote more creative thinking and efficient problem solving. Perhaps by assisting you to step outside of the task at hand and observe from an objective point of view.
So far, the only proof of the claims made to the cognitive enhancement that microdosing can provide are just that, claims. There are many forums and information available online about microdosing, but unfortunately no concrete proof. Which means, the effects could be entirely placebo, or for all we know everyone could just be lying, which is unlikely, but with no actual research we can’t know for sure.
Testing The Efficacy Of Microdosing
Beckley Foundation founder Amanda Feilding is a leading advocate for psychedelic and consciousness research and she is hoping to study and put the effects of microdosing to the test, to see if the reported benefits can actually be proven. If they can, this will make it much easier to lessen the laws up around these substances that have already been shown to have tremendous healing capabilities for numerous other mental health ailments.
How she plans to test this is actually quite simple, but will provide enough evidence to show whether or not microdosing positively affects the brain’s cognitive abilities, she will have the participants of the study play GO while microdosing and compare it to their ability while using placebos. GO is an abstract, strategy board game. Feilding came up with this idea from her own experiences in the 60s when she herself realized that she was better at solving problems and playing GO while under the influence of LSD.
The study will follow 20 participants, and each will take 10, 20 and 50 microgram doses of LSD, as well as a placebo during each session. A standard dose of LSD is 100 micrograms. Each time the participants microdose or consume a placebo they will play GO against a computer and undergo brain scans to monitor what is actually going on inside their heads. Afterwards they will answer questionnaires. The game GO was chosen because it is a very complex game and inspires out of the box ways of thinking.
Feilding told Inverse magazine:
The tests of creativity, which are current, like Torrance Test, they don’t really test for creativity. They test more for intelligence, or word recognition, or whatever they can’t test those “aha” moments in putting new insights together, whereas the GO game does test for that. You suddenly see, “Aha! That’s the right move to enclose the space.”
This study isn’t entirely thorough, but it can finally give us some concrete answers as to whether or not microdosing even has an effect on cognitive ability and problem solving, which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, LSD can’t be patented so that means it is very difficult to get the large amount of funding that is needed for more thorough large-scale studies. There are advocate groups for psychedelic research, however, so funding for these larger scale studies isn’t impossible. With more awareness that is raised of the potential benefits, the more likely we will see these substances being tested in larger scale studies.
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