Psilocybin, Alpha Frequencies & The Default Mode Network

From very recent neuroscience research
Evidence implicates the DMN in self-reflective and introspective functions (Qin and Northoff, 2011) and the phase of fluctuating activity in the DMN is often inversely correlated (or “anticorrelated”) with fluctuating activity in networks concerned with task-focused attention (task-positive networks, TPNs) (Fox et al., 2005). Like the DMN, alpha oscillations mature developmentally and evolutionarily (Basar and Guntekin, 2009), tempting speculations that these rhythms have developed to reduce “entropy” [i.e., disorder or uncertainty (Ben-Naim, 2008)] by increasing mutual information among neuronal ensembles (Tononi et al., 1994; Basar and Guntekin, 2009). With this in mind, it was remarkable that we recently found a highly significant positive correlation between the magnitude of alpha power decreases in the PCC after psilocybin and ratings of the item “I experienced a disintegration of my ‘self’ or ‘ego’.” Scores on this item also correlated positively with decreases in delta, theta, beta, and low gamma power, although alpha explained the most variance (a considerable 66%) Some (very bright) neuroscientists consider the Default Mode Network as the aspect of the Brain the allows us to have a sense of "self".... the feeling of "me". Hence when "magic mushrooms" kick in and destabilize the DMN, the result may be for a person to feel less of "me" and more of "it". 1) to first refine a bit of my terminology in the post - the "me" is not necessarily "bad" and the "it" is not necessarily good. It is much more an issue of relative harmony in the context of ongoing experience. Too much of either and we end up with "crazy". Here a "wholistic" view of "state integration" has the greatest potential of manifesting a mature spiritual/psychological experience of "self" (Self?). 2) the Default Mode Network (DMN) is the most studied of our Brain Networks. The assigned name gives us a bold indication of its foundational role in consciousness. To play on Descartes (questionable) phrase...if the pineal is the seat of the Soul, the DMN may be the seat of the Self. In both cases, one should not assume an obvious meaning to the terms Soul and Self. There are numerous explanations of each. 3) we know that the DMN is "home" in our brain. It is where we go (are?) when we retreat from tasks of any kind. It is your favorite big easy chair where you get to kick back and reflect on it all. It is the "safe place" of introspection. It is much of what feels like "me". 4) various factors (listed above in the main post including hallucinogens such as psilocybin) have a principal action of inhibiting or disrupting the (many) functions of the DMN. The condition across the brain as a whole is termed "destabilization". Interestingly unlike classes of other drugs (such as opiates and cannabinoids), hallucinogens as a class do not significantly disrupt the motor and sensory functions of the brain - their effects act primarily on the cognitive features of brain function. 5) as I have described, an induced state of "destabilization" (or an evolving pathology) results in the subjective experience of "nonsense" which is a condition of maximum noise to signal ratio in consciousness. The "mind" (psyche?) is left without a common reference of interpretation and consequently will shift (potentially) into various unpredictable "uncommon" states. 6) an "uncommon" state is neither good nor bad in and of itself. It is simply "uncommon" as valued against "common" states. Common states have a practiced organization while uncommon states will seek organization. For example, an experienced meditator may have built up a significant degree of experience in very "elevated" states of awareness over time. As such these states have become well organized and accessible (aka - they have been "learned") as "common" for this meditator. 7) an "uncommon" state (to use an analogy from physics) is like a psychic vacuum - it will irresistibly "suck in" mental symbol in a desperate need for establishing "meaning". As such the personal experiential "library" of the person combined with the vast (and mostly unconscious) library of their cultural views will act as a source of symbolic labeling of the nonsense found in the uncommon state. 8) a potential (but unreliable) benefit of an induced (or unexpected) uncommon state is a sense of "otherness" that introduces the person to a sense of "self" that falls outside of the normal boundaries of their common "me" state. The result tends to fall on one side of a psychic line or the other. As positive, the person has a validation of a broader "self" and therefore can expand their view of self and other. As a negative, the person has either a paranoid sense of threat (famous in schizophrenia) or retreats into a form of "magical thinking" in which they inappropriately assign all sorts of supernatural cause to simple experience (well known in many types of delusional states). 9) theoretically, the Neuro Light is capable of "guiding" a person experiencing an "uncommon" state. Choices in compositions act as "vectors" reinforcing principle states of mind that act as "prime attractors" drawing disorganization towards more predictable expressions.