In a new study by Johns Hopkins University, the authors analyzed how psilocybin, an active compound in psychedelic fungi, affects the brain.
The team focused on the part of the brain known as claustrum, its name comes from the Latin word “hidden, closed.” Claustrum is an extremely thin layer of neurons deep inside the cortex, but it spreads to all other areas of the brain.
Its true purpose also remains unclear, researchers reflect on its functions. Dr. Francis Crick, a British biologist and neuroscientist who proposed the structure of a DNA molecule with a double helix, believed that claustrum is the place of consciousness responsible for awareness and self-awareness. In fact, this is the center of our “I”.
To see what happens in claustrum when people take psychedelics, the researchers scanned the brain after taking psilocybin and a placebo. Scanning after using psilocybin showed that claustrum was less active – this means that the substance disables this area of the brain.