Research

Scientists were able to cause hallucinations without the use of drugs and drugs

Despite the fact that modern medicine hasquite a detailed idea of ​​the functioning of the human body, some aspects of our physiology still remain unraveled to the end. And sometimes research aimed at studying the work of a system gives us quite a few surprises. It happened with a team of experts from Stanford University. In the course of studying the work of the central nervous system, they managed to cause hallucinations without the use of drugs and narcotic drugs.

Why do people see hallucinations?

Hallucinations may be different in theirmanifestation: a person can hear sounds, see silhouettes, feel touches, smell, in general, in varying degrees, receive certain signals from, as it seems to him, the surrounding world. But all types of hallucinations are united by one thing: what happens to a person in the real world does not exist. This is only a subjective perception. But what caused this?

This is interesting: What is our brain capable of?

If you try to explain in simple language, thenthe appearance of hallucinations caused by bursts of activity in the brain. The reasons for this can be very different: from changes in the work of the brain itself to injuries, poisoning or taking hallucinogenic drugs. But recently, physiologists from Stanford University were able to cause hallucinations in experimental animals in a very unusual way.

How can you cause hallucinations?

According to the editors of the journal Science, scientistsfocused on studying the visual cortex of laboratory mice. This is the part of the brain in mice (as in humans) that processes information from the retina. Roughly speaking, thanks to this we can see. Two genes were implanted in the visual cortex. The first was in a "sleeping" state until infrared radiation began to influence it. The second one encoded a protein that would glow green whenever the neuron of the cortex responded to an external effect. That is, he showed whether the neuron is “working” at the moment or not. In addition, part of the mouse skull was replaced with a transparent “window” in order to observe how the brain works.

Next, the animals "sat down" in front of the screen and startedteach to distinguish between vertical and horizontal black bars on the screen with a white background. After that, the mice were taught to drink water from a tube each time they saw a black vertical line. When the training was over, the most interesting part of the experiment began. Scientists began to gradually reduce the contrast between the black stripe and the white background, while the mice did not cease to understand what they see in front of them. All this time, experts have monitored brain activity and noted which zones glow green. That is, exactly what zones work. Next, physiologists used high-precision infrared emitters in order to “illuminate” precisely those parts of the brain that are responsible for processing information.

As a result, it turned out that if it is to stimulatethat part of the brain that made the mice see a vertical line, the rodents began to drink. That is, it turns out that the animals saw a vertical line, although in front of them at that moment there was an absolutely white screen.

Perhaps the strangest part of the studyis the fact that to call for hallucinations, we only needed to stimulate 20 neurons, ”says one of the authors, Carl Deiseroth. If we consider that the human brain and the mouse are very similar in their structure, then we can conclude that the occurrence of hallucinations is a much more interesting process from the point of view of physiology. Indeed, dozens and hundreds of “spontaneous impulses” regularly occur in the brain, but this does not lead to the fact that we all see hallucinations. Perhaps there is some kind of “defense mechanism” that you should look for.

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