We hear stories of people losing themselves when they ‘trip’ on psychedelic substances like mushrooms and LSD. While we have long known that consuming these substances triggers a change in the way our brain works while being ‘high’ or under the influence, scientists have never fully exacted evidence of how this process really works.
But a new study revealed that the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in mushrooms, work to dissolve a person’s ego, a phenomenon known as ego-death or ego-disintegration. Researchers say psilocybin triggers a break down of the sense of self through a chemical reaction in the brain.
According to Science Alert, a first-of-its-kind study titled Me, Myself, Bye performed by researchers from the Netherlands’ Maastricht University offered evidence that suggests this ego-disintegration while ‘tripping’ might be linked to changes in glutamate levels.
Glutamate is the most common excitatory neurotransmitter released by nerve cells in the brain. It is important for fast-tracking signals and information throughout our brain, especially within the cortex and hippocampus.
The brain’s hippocampus, it turns out, is believed to play a role in a person’s self-esteem.