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Neuroscientists: Shroom-induced brain rewiring could hold the key to fighting mental illness

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Psychedelic mushrooms dramatically increase connectivity between otherwise uncommunicative parts of the brain, according to researchers from Imperial College London in an article to be published in the November edition of the Royal Society’s journal Interface.

Paul Expert and his team analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from two groups of people — one who had ingested a small amount of the active agent in hallucinogenic mushrooms, psilocybin, and another group who was given a placebo.

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They found that the main effect was the creation of stable connections between parts of the brain that, under normal conditions, only communicate with each other in dream states — such as the hippocampus (which deals with short term memory and spatial recognition) and anterior cingulate cortex (which regulates rational cognitive functions).

The result of this stable cross-wiring is a more interconnected brain, as shown on the diagram below:

mushroom

Image via Interface

On the left is a data visualization of a brain administered the placebo; on the right, one that has been subjected to a mild dose of psilocybin.

“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization,” Dr. Expert said. “One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synaesthesia” — which is the experience of having senses overlap, such that certain smells are accompanied by flashes of color, or certain sounds are accompanied by tastes.

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It is also believed that rewiring the brain in this manner may allow scientists to find more effective ways to treat depression or help smokers and alcoholics battle their addictions.

This research is only possible thanks to a a recent loosening on the regulations regarding the study of psychedelic drugs for medical purposes. This is a positive measure, said study co-author Giovanni Petri, who told Wired that “in a normal brain, many things are happening. You don’t know what is going on, or what is responsible for that. So you try to perturb the state of consciousness a bit, and see what happens.”


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Florida man caught on video pulling gun and threatening to kill shopper who asked him to wear a mask

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A man shopping in a Florida Walmart pulled a gun and threatened to kill a shopper who asked him to wear a mask, according to police, NBC Miami reports.

Surveillance video shows an unmasked man pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair in the store this Saturday. A masked shopper approaches the pair and words are exchanged, prompting the man to give the masked shopper the middle finger. Soon after, the man pulls a gun from his waistband, allegedly threatening to kill the shopper before he leaves the store.

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Dr. Fauci: Trump officials are only hurting the president with their ‘bizarre’ attacks on public health experts

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hit back on Wednesday at officials within the Trump administration who have been trying to undermine him.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Fauci said it was strange to see the president's loyalists publicly attacking him and other public health experts.

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Trump’s push to reopen schools appears to be blowing up in his face: polls

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President Donald Trump has been adamant that schools reopen in the fall, although he has given little to no guidance for how to do so in a way that won't lead to further eruptions of the novel coronavirus.

However, Business Insider reports that the president's rush to get schools open may already be coming back to bite him.

As evidence, the publication cited several national polls that show opposition to Trump's plans.

"A Politico/Morning Consult national tracking poll released on Wednesday found that 53% of voters oppose 'fully reopening' daycares and K-12 schools, 50% oppose a full reopening of colleges and universities, and 65% oppose Trump's threats to pull federal funding from schools that don't re-open," Business Insider writes.

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