Have you been in a “waking-dream” state before? You are awake but all things around are like dreams — dreams of the past and future, dreams of angels and demons, dreams of alternate dimensions and universities, etc. Let me clarify, I’m not talking about getting high. Instead, this state is caused by Ayahuasca, a beverage with powerful hallucinogenic properties.
Ayahuasca and DMT
Ayahuasca is a brew made from vines and leaves of the Amazon rainforest. It has been used for hundreds of years by various groups in South America and is said can make people see, hear, smell, feel or taste things that aren’t really there.
DMT (or dimethyltryptamine) is a substance contained in Ayahuasca. It can not only be found in many other plants and animals but also be found in human brain.
In order to investigate how DMT and Ayahuasca affect human consciousness, the research team from Imperial College London conducted a study.
A “waking-dream” state
The researchers recruited 13 healthy volunteers, provided them with infusions of DMT, and measured their brain waves before, during and after infusions.
According to the data, DMT greatly changed electrical activity in their brain and caused a pronounced reduction in alpha waves, which were produced by our brain when we are awake. The researchers also observed short-lived spikes in theta waves, which are often associated with dreaming.
Besides, their brain activity became more chaotic when under the influence of DMT.
From the altered brainwaves and participants' reports, it's clear these people are completely immersed in their experience — it's like daydreaming only far more vivid and immersive, it's like dreaming but with your eyes open," said lead author Christopher Timmermann.
Although the researchers can’t say if DMT can benefit the treatment of mental disorders, they are planning to conduct further studies to study its effects. And they believe that DMT may shed some light on the relationship between brain activity and consciousness.