Dovaldo83: People take for granted how much our brains fill in the blanks visually when we are perfectly sober. The input our brains get from our eyes actually contain a big [blindspot](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7jpJ12lBjg), and a spiderweb of veins that block our vision. Our brains are rather talented at guessing what is there based on what is around those bind spots and what it knows about the world. It happens so seamlessly that we don’t even notice.
Ever see something in the corner of your eye like your dog sitting there, but when you look it’s just an object that is somewhat the shape of your dog? Your eyes caught some vague shape, your brain guessed that it was your dog based on your expectations, but just happened to be wrong this time.
On LSD, these functions become far less good at their job, but they’re still trying to fill in those blanks. Once a white cat came to lay on my chest while I was looking up at the popcorn stucco ceiling, and the ceiling became a kaleidoscope of cat faces. If I focused on any one face, That face disappeared, but my peripheral vision was full of smiling purring kitties covering everything white in the room. [Google Deep Images](https://artoferickuns.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/dbb70e92b3b9dd88e1a8afd2c4d0c068.jpg) come very close to conveying what this is like.
shlogan: LSD and other psychedelics latch onto a receptor sites called “5-HT2a” which affects the neurotransmitter serotonin. LSD in particular effects a lot of other 5-HT (serotonin) receptors and even some dopamine receptors, but 5-HT2a receptor sites, in particular, is what is believed to produce the hallucinogenic effects of psychedelic drugs. These receptors also affect many other functions in your body and some psychedelic drugs (like the 25-NBMOe series which is more selective and a “full 5-HT2A agonist” (means it hugs onto the receptor harder in certain spots)) can cause all sorts of effects beyond hallucinations such hyperthermia, hyperpyrexia, tachycardia, hypertension, clonus, seizures, agitation, aggression, and even death. LSD (and many other psychedelics) for some unknown reason don’t cause these effects (which are symptoms of something called serotonin syndrome).
The why behind the hallucinations caused by the 5-HT2a receptors is fairly unknown, but the most popular idea is that stimulation of this receptor causes a “sensory feedback loop”. Normally your brain takes sensory input, such as light entering your eyes, and runs it through a process in one section of your brain (the thalamus) and fed to another part (the cortex) where it is experienced by you as sight. When on a drug like LSD, that sensory input is not just run through the process once, but is fed back to the start of the process and run again and again. This reprocessing of the original sensory data causes distortions that you experience as hallucinations.
tl;dr, your brain is re-processing and distorting data it receives many times before sending it to the place in the brain where you actively experience the data.
ghotiaroma: From what I understand LSD does not actually produce literal hallucinations. It does not create items that do not exist in some way but only distorts things that are there.
LSD style distortions look like the ones you can see from hypno disks like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooVCvFLbjO0
butkaf: Oh man I am so glad for this question because I literally just wrote my thesis about this.
What you consider to be normal vision is already a hallucination. What you “see” is a jumble of very simple shapes. In the human visual area, these shapes are put together in a stage-by-stage process. Certain shapes occurring together will become an assortment of shapes, and certain assortments occurring together become conglomerates of shapes, and conglomerates occurring together become even bigger assortments of shapes, all the way up to actual objects.
In a sense, your entire reality is fabricated, but luckily this fabrication is pretty accurate, but still a fabrication. On LSD, this fabrication progress is in parts broken down and altered. Many of the kaleidoscopes, geometric shapes, fractals, etc. people see, are actually stages of this fabrication process transmitting information repeatedly, or even transmitting “templates” without input. Much of the geometry itself is also a reflection of the structure of the human visual centre itself. The shape of our retina and our eyes is also reflected, and our “blind spot” can become the centre of an endless tunnel or vortex.
But, LSD also creates another kind of hallucination in another way. By rerouting information from different parts of the brain TO the visual centre, we start to experience hallucinations that are actually representations of different elements of our mind. What we experience as hallucinations, is the visual centre trying to process the information that is routed to it, whichever it may be.
What LSD ultimately shows you is parts of yourself, things that happen in your brain 24/7 but that you ordinarily don’t have access to, or direct access to.
If anyone needs sources on specific parts of this (since all this stuff is still quite controversial) please ask.
NightMaestro: From what we know at the moment your brain basically tries to crosswire a bunch of stuff while the lsd is active.this is the trip, and you can tell if you get synwsthesia see visuals etc. Just your whole brain using all kinds of pathways at once.
The PNS response, (the body response) is kind of akin to a fever but mentally wired. Your sense of temperature is all messed up, so you sweat feel cold etc, and the seratonin surge can make u feel good sometimes. You might get an adrenaline rush, or just everything feels weird to the touch. If you take enough you can surpass a lot of this, to thw point where you are tripping so hard you dont even realize your body anymore, because your so focused on the incredible trip your mind is going through. Fun stuff. Dont bite off more than your brain can chew, some people just flip at that point.
curiousjorge66: What’s the worst form of bad trip can happen when you take it or take bad lsd?
Forklosure: It does not really cause hallucinations. Things may be exaggerated, colors may be different, things may have trails. Sometimes things appear to be breathing, but it’s not like you see little green men walking around.
mdi5c0rd: Your brain is a complex supercomputer that has evolved to process the information that is relevant to its survival and abandon information that has no apparent benefit – hence you forget dreams, your mind simply believes that that information is irrelevant. Unconsciously, you absorb immense amounts of information every millisecond, but because you have already taught your brain specific patterns of informational analysis from empirical knowledge (both yourself and your ancestors evolutionarily), your brain just analyzes what it needs, and doesn’t pay attention to what it doesn’t. Think of it as a filter.
What LSD does is it gets rid of this filter by fucking around with the balance of your basic, most primal hormones that your brain has learned to keep in a specific ratio evolutionarily. Thereby, suddenly your brain starts overanalyzing every little piece of information it gets to the fullest. This is why you start seeing objects as if from a different dimension, your body feels as though its tiny, but your limbs are huge, you start seeing how peoples faces blush with every heartbeat, you ‘feel’ their vibes and thoughts, you see colors that don’t exist, you start ‘seeing’ sound waves. In reality it is just your brain attempting to analyze all the information that it *can* analyze, but doesn’t because it never needed to to survive. Suddenly your thoughts might merge because a tiny thing reminded you of something and you start seeing a weird aggregated image of a real life object. For example: you see a christmas tree with lights, that reminds you of a time when you were sitting next to your grandfather years ago next to a fireplace with a christmas tree in the background. You get a feeling of warmth and suddenly you might hallucinate that your TV became a fireplace. You blink once or twice and its a TV again.
For example – the famous LSD experience that your body is tiny but your limbs and face are huge is caused by you realizing how your brain has been analyzing your body the whole time, but because you were too busy thinking about taxes and your mortgage you never paid attention to it. [Heres a picture](https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a2/bb/1c/a2bb1c38d632956b722e7c8c8e4c290a–motor-homunculus-science-humor.jpg). You do this consciously too, realize right now, for example, that you actually always see your nose. During everyday life you have taught yourself to just forget about this fact so you don’t really see it.
Feeling ‘vibes’ on LSD is just a brain identifying a specific stimulus but overreacting to it. For example, you see someone and you think he has ‘bad vibes’. A sober brain would analyze *why* you’re feeling that way – is the person an asshole, is he in a shitty mood, does he smell, do you just not like him? As a sober person you can choose to just not pay attention to the stimulant. A LSD tripping brain would perceive this emotion in a very raw, frightening feeling that would overwhelm you which you might not even be able to understand. Its basically your flight or fight response reacting to an external stimuli that you cannot control consciously, but you do so – subconsciously because of a learned response. Imagine you see a radiator and suddenly that reminds you of a huge shark jaw because you think you see teeth. A tripping brain might suddenly get scared of a radiator simply because it learned to associate huge sets of teeth with danger. A person might whimper and feel afraid because of this and even react – like hide behind a couch to everyones amusement.
This is why I believe its dangerous for people to trip for the first time when they are older. They have already set in stone their understanding of how the world works and it might be a complete shock to them when they realize that there is more to it then they realize.
In short, your brain filters out info it thinks is bullshit for your survival and operations. Taking LSD temporarily breaks this filter, causing you to consume and analyze all the information that is around you (or rather that you *can* analyze from your sensual organs), bit by bit. This causes you to hallucinate, because you are overanalyzing stuff that usually you dont. Sometimes, you can permanently damage the internal programming of your hormone levels and be stuck in a weird limbo of information processing which we term schizophrenia.
ICE_EXPOSED: Internet Pirate stealing a neurobiologist answer here.
Nothing posted so far has an adequate, yet dumbed down explanation of what goes on, so I’ll give it a shot.
The first thing we need to establish is what a neurotransmitter is. Essentially, there are chemicals that exist within your brain that help transmit and modulate information. This happens by the chemicals binding to a site, similar to a lock and key, where the key (neurotransmitter) unlocks a lock (receptor) and this lets the brain know that certain information was exchanged. This information typically releases something known as an action potential, or essentially an electrical signal – basically it lets another part of the brain know that this part of the brain was ‘activated’.
There are only so many neurotransmitters and they can do a variety of things in the brain.
LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide has a structure that is very similar to a few neurotransmitters that are naturally produced. The key it is most similar to is a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Serotonin is used to modulate and signal a variety of things in the brain. Visual processing (or what you see) utilizes a lot of serotonin. Almost all of the senses have some serotonin input as well. Emotional processing (sad, happy, excited, etc.) is also heavily serotonin influenced.
LSD happens to be even better at activating serotonin receptors than serotonin itself, so it essentially increases the normal levels of signaling by serotonin (it does this through a variety of mechanisms, not just limited to better binding – it actually releases extra serotonin, changes the lock to accept keys more readily, etc.). In a lot of ways its like turning up the volume on quiet music. Not only are the already audible pieces more audible, but things you previously could not hear are now audible (whispers you might have missed, or background noise might now become audible).
Because it increases the signal, it also increases the signal noise (if you turn the volume up on a microphone very high, you sometimes get feedback loops, or that annoying high pitched noise). In addition, if you have the volume extremely high, you may not be able to differentiate between the louder sounds very well. On LSD, this often results in hallucinations – hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, etc. things that are not actually there.
In addition, through a relatively unknown mechanism, LSD increases ‘cross-talk’ between areas of the brain. That is to say, it helps stimulate areas of the brain that don’t normally talk to each other, to start talking to each other. Over the long term, it can even help create connections that previously didn’t exist – much like putting up extra telephone or internet lines. This increased cross-talk while under the influence of LSD (combined with the increased sensory input) often results in something known as synesthesia, or a mixing of the senses. What this means is that people might experience a sense across multiple senses – they might see sound, taste colors, or feel smells.
Since the mechanism of cognition (what causes us to think the way we do) is not known, I cannot explain why it changes a person’s mindset, only that it does. People often describe it as ‘thinking outside the box’. Having done LSD myself many times, I agree that it shifts the paradigm of thought. It likely is associated with this ‘cross-talk’ mechanism, at least to some extent, but the increase in serotonin and dopamine likely has an effect as well. Other serotonergic drugs, such as ecstasy (which is very similar to hallucinogens), shift how you think as well because increased serotonin results in a sort of euphoria (happiness). It also seems to increase one’s ability to empathize with someone else – that is to say, you more easily relate with someone else’s emotional state. This increased empathy also changes how you think about things.
It’s important to note that no hallucinogens have any proven addictive mechanisms (they are the only recreational drugs that have no addictive qualities). In addition, casual use is not associated with any permanent brain damage. Any use, casual or not, will reduce the relative abundance of serotonin (and other catecholamine receptors, such as dopamine) receptors. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that a single use of a moderate dose can be recovered from within about 1-2 weeks of abstinence.
pudgebone: This post is about lysergic acid diethylamide. Not psilocybin. The highs between the two have similarities but are completely different. Please do not confuse OP with anecdotes unrelated to the topic.
MarcoNoPollo: As a person who had dropped acid it doesn’t make anything appear just alters is like stuff seems more fluid or like flows together kind of like water painting. Lights will streak or seem runny. Things will bleed together almost also if you do any kind of optics illusions or like those swirly wheel things shitty gets real weird.
Nakita1974: LSD has a jigsaw shape that just so happens to fit perfectly with the sertonin in the brain .