31:22 – What’s going on in the brain? Studies have shown more than just changes in blood flow. Using advanced EEG, we can look at connections in the brain between hubs in the brain. Researchers find a robust conclusion where the connections in the brain are exacerbated.
32:19 – How primitive our understanding is of the nature of conscious experience. This is known as ‘The Hard Problem of Consciousness’. This, as of now, is an open question. Any attempt to discover the truth behind why it is that we experience consciousness is a very daunting endeavor; we are barely scratching the surface. There are very complicated emergent processes at work; where the entity built upon smaller entities is greater than the sum of its parts. It is overwhelming and Dr. Griffiths believes we won’t have any good answers any time soon.
34:24 – We know these mystical experiences are natural to humans. Since the dawn of man, there have been stories retold of epiphany and life changing moments. Today we can quite reliably produce these effects and expand on the science explaining these experiences. We have a model in place for testing long term and short term effects of psilocybin; this puts us in a very privileged time in human history.
36:43 – Neuroplasticity. There is a limit as of now to what we can measure when trying to quantify brain connections. What we have are first hand accounts of how subjects feel after taking psilocybin. What we do know is that people’s fundamental beliefs are changed when they take the drug. That is probably reason enough to assume that there are significant neuroplastic changes going on that stick with the individual.
Quote from a study on psilocybin’s effect on an individual’s openness:
“We observed significant increases in openness after a high-dose psilocybin session that were larger in magnitude than changes in personality typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life experience”
39:00 – Personality theorists are set in their ways when they believe that the personality an individual embodies is one that sticks with that individual forever; psilocybin makes a great case against that. The personality is malleable; the increase in openness that psilocybin has provided some people is a strong testament for that malleability.
39:42 – Addiction. Radical reorganization of beliefs can be of huge benefit to individuals struggling with addiction. One study exampled the effects of psilocybin on smokers trying to quit; they found an 80% abstinence rate 6 months after the psilocybin was administered. In the smoking world, this is unheard of. Varenicline, which is considered the best treatment for smoking addiction, has about a 20-30% abstinence rate. This was not the control but studies are being done with Varenicline as the control and measurements of brain activity will be taken to get proper context for the efficacy of psilocybin.
41:05 – Tailor made treatments involving psilocybin. The reorganizational experiences elicited by psilocybin can be embedded into different treatment contexts; this can help many people struggling with a wide array of dispositions. It is “potentially promising” according to Dr. Griffiths.
44:03 – Groups that Dr. Griffiths works are attempting to get psilocybin through phase III of the four phases involved in getting a drug to mass market. The phases involve different ways and scales of testing the drug’s efficacy and downsides. 50% of drugs do not pass phase III; the drug will be compared to the current ‘gold standard’ treatment.
If approved the drug may be subject to specific regulations applicable only to psilocybin. Dr. Griffiths believes there could be a central pharmacy that may distribute the drug to clinics with instruction for administration based on a patient’s disposition.