Elevated state of consciousness: what it is and how it affects the brain

Consciousness is an abstract concept difficult to define, Which is easier to understand in his absence. In other words, it can be demarcated with absolute clarity that non-living things are not aware of themselves, just like dead matter which when presented to life is not able to recognize the surrounding reality or its own. state.

But what about animals? Do the rest of living things have a sense of identity? Are they aware of themselves? Many scientists recognize that most species with a central nervous system (CNS) have some brain capacity to perceive pain and pleasure in a more or less conscious way, so this ability cannot be ruled out in the animal Kingdom. In invertebrates and other taxa, the unknown remains open.

The state of consciousness is even more complicated beyond the animal species that present it, it turns out that it differs on several levels, some of which can only be reached (so far) by the use of psychedelics. Do you dare to dissect the human mind with us? On this occasion, we tell you what is the high state of consciousness and what causes it.

  • Related article: “The 6 levels of unconsciousness and associated disorders”

What is consciousness?

As we said before, it is easier to define what consciousness is not than what it really means. Nevertheless, we will try to circumscribe this abstract term in a series of words. According to the Royal Academy of Spanish Language (RAE), consciousness could be defined as: “it is the ability of human beings to recognize and relate to the surrounding reality; coma is the total loss of consciousness “.

The thing gets complicated from here it turns out consciousness and consciousness are not the same, at least not from a strict point of view. A single letter distinguishes them phonetically, but if we become technicians, we will find that their indistinct use is often wrong. Consciousness is always synonymous with consciousness, but consciousness cannot be traded for consciousness.

Using the initial definition, the consciousness of the human being is the capacity of our species to recognize the surrounding reality, to respond to it and, in addition, to be able to immediately know its own subject, His actions and thoughts. On the other hand, consciousness usually has a much more ethical and moral component, because on the basis of what stands out in the environment or in it, certain components are assigned. Let’s look at these differences with an example:

  • I fell to the ground and passed out, but regained consciousness shortly after. The subject was able to recognize himself and locate himself in the environment.

  • I always act according to my conscience. The subject attributes a moral charge to his way of seeing things and to his environment, and decides on the mechanisms of action from this.

With the two examples, things have surely become a bit clearer, right? Once this linguistic conflict is delimited, we are ready to know all about the high state of consciousness. Don’t miss it.

What is the high state of consciousness?

The high state of consciousness is an exceptional type of consciousness, that is, it goes beyond waking, sleeping and dreaming and does not correspond to alterations in level or structure of the brain. In other words, this event is characterized by being different from the state of beta waves (brain electromagnetic oscillations) typical of the circadian phase in which we are awake.

Usually, 3 types of consciousness are distinguished in “normality”. These are:

  • Alert Level: Someone reacts to stimuli and experiences perceptions, but is not fully aware of them. Here, vegetative patients would fall, for example.
  • Self-awareness level: when the subject pays attention to his own inner world and becomes a reflective observer of himself.
  • Meta-self-awareness level: a level consequence of the above. The subject is aware that he is conscious: “I am aware that I am sad”.

Thus, the state of high consciousness would come out of these 3 meanings, thus considering an “elevation” of it. How do you get to this state?

Awareness and LSD

Lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD is a semi-synthetic psychedelic substance that produces psychotropic effects.. Post-consumption experiences include hallucinations, synesthesia, distorted ego perception, altered consciousness, and visualization of beings and images that are perceived as totally real by those who consume it, although not observable by the environment. .

After the consumption of this drug, a state called “lysergic intoxication” is reached.. In him, the everyday image of the world presents an extreme and sudden transformation, even generating a removal of the “I / you” barrier. This is very useful in the medical field, because patients with egocentric disorder are detached from their fixation, isolation and are more receptive to the indications of a professional. In addition, this psychedelic allows to recover content or experiences already forgotten or repressed, reliving memories of early childhood.

LSD and human consciousness have been studied many times, so there is already a large collection of literature on the interactions between the two in public science libraries. However, a new study catches our attention: In volume 227 of the journal Neuroimage, published in February 2021, research was collected which shows that LSD causes the patient to have a greater diversity of neural signals., Or what is. similarly, increased brain activity or a “high state of consciousness.”

LSD acts on receptors for serotonin in the brain, an essential neurotransmitter in the human nervous system. Due to its temporal effects on the mind and the brain, it is postulated that the serotonin pathway of LSD represents a powerful method for relating physiological phenomena to their brain analogues, which would promote understanding and understanding of both by the individual.

Based on 2 typical characteristics of the human mind (integration and segregation), it has been shown neurologically that LSD consumption produces an atypical high state of consciousness that is impossible to achieve otherwise, As it promotes an abnormal increase in the functional complexity of the brain. During lysergic intoxication, the brain regions act in a less “linked” way than usual, due to the presence or absence of anatomical connections.

We know we operate in pretty complex terms, but if we want you to stick with one idea, here’s the thing: Some postulates hold that anatomical brain connections are, in part, the product of the expectation of the brain. individual about which sections of your brain should be exchanging information. These “expectations” would be shaped by factors as intrinsic to the individual and the species as by evolution and experience.

According to the aforementioned research, during lysergic intoxication, the expected structural-functional correlation is significantly reduced. By being less constrained by preconceptions (due to the effects of the drug), the brain is free to explore a number of connective patterns that go beyond those dictated by human anatomy. This could explain the formation of completely different images and realities from the normal and the dissolution of “I”, or what is the same thing, would allow the individual to reach a high state of consciousness.

summary

As complex as it may sound, the general message of the research and the article presented is: Consciousness is based on the perception of what surrounds us and of ourselves, but, of course, it is circumscribed by our physiological limits and what we expect from them. With the use of drugs like LSD, the brain “gets rid” of the links and anatomo-functional correlations and is therefore able to explore lands totally impossible to understand without the action of the psychedelic.

By this, we do not intend to encourage anyone to engage in illegal substance use in order to experience altered states of consciousness. It should be noted that the possession and consumption of drugs like LSD continue to be punished by law and eliminate many dangers, so that only the individual is responsible for his actions if he decides to consume them.

Bibliographical references:

  • Cohen, S. (1967). The Beyond Within: The History of LSD. New York: Athenaeum.
  • Halberstadt, AL, Klein, LM, Chatha, M., Valenzuela, LB, Stratford, A., Wallach, J., … and Brandt, SD (2019). Pharmacological characterization of the LSD analogue N-ethyl-N-cyclopropyl lysergamide (ECPLA). Psychopharmacology, 236 (2), 799-808.
  • Luppi, AI, Carhart-Harris, RL, Roseman, L., Pappas, I., Menon, DK and Stamatakis, EA (2021). LSD alters dynamic integration and segregation in the human brain. NeuroImage, 227, 117653.
  • Nichols, DE (2018). Dark classics of chemical neuroscience: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Chemical Neuroscience ACS, 9 (10), 2331-2343.
  • Pinto Meneses, JA (2019). Resilience factors in adolescents exposed to the use and abuse of psychotropic substances, who live in El Farcit Sanitari in zone three of Guatemala City (Doctoral thesis, University of San Carlos de Guatemala).
  • States of consciousness, NOVA. Retrieved February 10, from https://nobaproject.com/modules/states-of-consciousness

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