DMT alters cortical travelling waves
Psychedelic drugs are potent modulators of conscious states and therefore powerful tools for investigating their neurobiology. N,N, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can rapidly induce an extremely immersive state of consciousness characterized by vivid and elaborate visual imagery. Here, we investigated the electrophysiological correlates of the DMT induced altered state from a pool of participants receiving DMT and (separately) placebo (saline) while instructed to keep their eyes closed. Consistent with our hypotheses, results revealed a spatio-temporal pattern of cortical activation (i.e., travelling waves) similar to that elicited by visual stimulation. Moreover, the typical top-down alpha-band rhythms of closed-eyes rest were significantly decreased, while the bottom-up forward wave was significantly increased. These results support a recent model proposing that psychedelics reduce the 'precision-weighting of priors', thus altering the balance of top-down versus bottom-up information passing. The robust hypothesis-confirming nature of these findings imply the discovery of an important mechanistic principle underpinning psychedelic-induced altered states.
The data and the code to perform the analysis are available at : https://osf.io/wujgp/
DMT alters cortical travelling wavesOSF, 10.17605/OSF.IO/WUJGP.
Article and author information
Alex Mosley Charitable Trust
- Robin L Carhart-Harris
Ad Astra Chandaria Foundation
- Robin L Carhart-Harris
CRCNS ANR-NSF (ANR-19-NEUC-0004)
- Rufin VanRullen
Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica de Chile
- Christopher Timmermann
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All participants provided written informed consent, and the study was approved by the National Research Ethics (NRES) Committee London - Brent and the Health Research Authority (16/LO/0897). The study was conducted in line with the Declaration of Helsinki and the National Health Service Research Governance Framework.
- Virginie van Wassenhove, CEA, DRF/I2BM, NeuroSpin; INSERM, U992, Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, France
- Received: June 8, 2020
- Accepted: October 11, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: October 12, 2020 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: October 21, 2020 (version 2)
- Version of Record updated: November 9, 2020 (version 3)
© 2020, Alamia et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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