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Brain Scans Visualize Effects of LSD on Human Brain for 1st Time

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Brain Scans Visualize Effects of LSD on Human Brain for 1st Time

Researchers have published the first images showing the effects of LSD on the human brain, as part of a series of studies to examine how the drug causes its characteristic hallucinogenic effects.

David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London who has previously examined the neural effects of mind-altering drugs such as the hallucinogen psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, was one of the study’s leaders. He tells Nature what the research revealed, and how he hopes LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) might ultimately be useful in therapies.

Why study the effects of LSD on the brain?

For brain researchers, studying how psychedelic drugs such as LSD alter the ‘normal’ brain state is a way to study the biological phenomenon that is consciousness.

We ultimately would also like to see LSD deployed as a therapeutic tool. The idea has old roots. In the 1950s and 60s thousands of people took LSD for alcoholism; in 2012, a retrospective analysis of some of these studies suggested that it helped cut down on drinking. Since the 1970s there have been lots of studies with LSD on animals, but not on the human brain. We need that data to validate the trial of this drug as a potential therapy for addiction or depression.

Why hasn’t anyone done brain scans before?

Before the 1960s, LSD was studied for its potential therapeutic uses, as were other hallucinogens. But the drug was heavily restricted in the UK, the United States and around the world after 1967 — in my view, due to unfounded hysteria over its potential dangers. The restrictions vary worldwide, but in general, countries have insisted that LSD has ‘no medical value’, making it tremendously difficult to work with.

How did you get approval to give volunteers LSD?

United Nations conventions and national laws do permit academic research on heavily-restricted drugs such as LSD. In the UK, this sort of study is legal so long as the drug is not being used as a therapeutic. This was not a clinical trial: we gave LSD to volunteers who were already experienced with the drugs and took their brain scans over eight hours in the lab in Cardiff, in 2014. It took us nine months to get approval from a UK ethics committee for the work: the research was funded by the Safra Foundation [a philanthropic foundation in Geneva, Switzerland] and the Beckley Foundation [a charity near Oxford, UK, that promotes drug-policy reform] though we needed to crowdfund through Walacea.com for the resources to analyse the data.

What were the results of the study?

To take advantage of the “long trip” produced by LSD — an eight-hour experience, compared to say four on psilocybin — we put our participants through a huge range of tests.

In one study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences we looked at blood flow in different parts of the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, and electrical activity using magnetoencephalography1. We found that under LSD, compared to placebo, disparate regions in the brain communicate with each other when they don’t normally do so. In particular, the visual cortex increases its communication with other areas of the brain, which helps explain the vivid and complex hallucinations experienced under LSD, and the emotional flavour they can take.

On the other hand, within some important brain networks, such as the neuronal networks that normally fire together when the brain is at rest, sometimes called the ‘default mode network’, we saw reduced blood flow — something we’ve also seen with psilocybin — and that neurons that normally fire together lost synchronization. That correlated with our volunteers reporting a disintegration of their sense of self, or ego. This known effect is called ‘ego dissolution’: the sense that you are less a singular entity, and more melded with people and things around you. We showed that this could be experienced independently of the hallucinatory effects — the two don’t necessarily go together.

What else?

Among other studies, one of our team, Mendel Kaelen, a PhD student at Imperial, has a paper which will appear next week in European Neuropsychopharmacology looking at how listening to music affects the experience of taking LSD. He found that communication between the parahippocampus [a brain region important in memory storage] and the visual cortex [which processes information input from the eyes] reduces when you take LSD. But when you hear music as well, the visual cortex receives more information from the parahippocampus, and this is associated with increases in eyes-closed imagery and personal memories. So music enhances the LSD experience and might be important in therapeutic settings.

Another study to be published in Current Biology, led by Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial, looks at how ego dissolution correlates with an increase in global connectivity — all the parts of the brain communicating with each other to a greater degree.

With only 20 participants — and only 15 quality data points because 5 people moved too much inside the brain scanner — how confident can you be in your findings?

We got very clear and significant effects — and they were consistent with the data from previous studies with psilocybin, though the effects with LSD were far stronger.

Are other scientists working with LSD?

We think there is only one other group in the world currently working with LSD in humans – they are based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, led by Franz Vollenweider. They appear to be focusing on using antagonists [which block LSD and its effects] to clarify the pharmacological targets of LSD. They have done their own fMRI scans, but taken during psychological tasks, rather than when the brain is at rest, as we did. Their results haven’t been published yet, so I can’t comment on their findings.

What studies will you do next?

We have plans to do separate experiments to look at how LSD can influence creativity, and how the LSD state mimics the dream state.

More importantly, we have already completed a trial on psilocybin as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council: not as a daily drug, but in targeted psychotherapeutic sessions. Results will be presented next month. The basic argument for this is that we know that the default mode network is overactive in people who are depressed, and we know from our earlier study4 that psilocybin reduces how integrated that network is — at least during the ‘trip’ itself.

Our latest brain imaging study suggests that LSD has similar effects — suggesting that it could be trialled therapeutically too.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Trump Defends Brett Kavanaugh After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Resurface

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Trump Defends Brett Kavanaugh After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Resurface

A new book by two New York Times reporters says there was more to an allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh than the Senate hearing uncovered.

President Donald Trump leapt to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Sunday after allegations of sexual misconduct that had once threatened to torpedo his nomination to the bench resurfaced.

“He is an innocent man who has been treated HORRIBLY,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to the accusations as “lies.” The president also accused critics of attempting to influence Kavanaugh’s opinions and suggested that Kavanaugh “start suing people for liable, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.” (Trump apparently meant “libel,” and later re-issued the tweet with the correct spelling of the word.)

Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on the court. He was sworn in last October after a confirmation process that focused on the allegations — and the protests, controversy and high drama of the Senate hearing that followed.

Trump appeared to be reacting to an opinion-section article written by two New York Times reporters, published late Saturday, whose book on the Kavanaugh nomination will be published this week. In the book, which was summarized in Saturday’s article, the authors wrote that they had found new corroboration for accusations that Kavanaugh exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez, a classmate at Yale.

The book, written by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, also uncovered a new accusation. Citing two officials, the reporters said that a former Yale classmate told senators and the FBI about a different episode of alleged sexual misconduct.

NBC News has not verified the reporting released Sunday.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegation by Ramirez as well as accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school.

“During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been ‘the talk of campus’,” the reporters wrote in the New York Times article. “Our reporting suggests that it was.”

Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in a Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker.

But according to text messages obtained last year by NBC News, in the days leading up to Ramirez’ public allegation Kavanaugh and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim.

The FBI opened an expanded background investigation into Kavanaugh after pressure from Democrats in Congress initially delayed his confirmation process.

But dozens of people with potential information into the allegations against him were not contacted, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers.

Several members of the Senate Judiciary Commitee on Sunday spoke out about the new reporting, including Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who called for Kavanaugh to be impeached.

“I sat through those hearings,” Harris, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted. “Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called Kavanaugh’s confirmation process a “sham.”

“I strongly opposed him based on his views on executive power, which will continue to haunt our country, as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today,” Klobuchar, also a presidential candidate, told ABC’s “This Week.” “My concern here is that the process was a sham. I don’t think you can look at impeachment hearings without getting the documents. The House would have to get the documents. And the attorney general is shielding documents.”

“If you recall, we were given this moment just a few days every other hour to look at the documents related to other allegations that have been called in on the FBI tip line,” she continued, adding, “I think the whole thing was a sham and that those documents need to be turned over, as well as the documents that the White House hid from his time in the White House Counsel’s Office. All of that needs to come forward to even look at a proceeding like that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told “This Week” that the new claims amounted to “an amazing level of reporting trying to just really dig up any dirt they can on the guy” adding the “far left” was “trying to smear” Kavanaugh.

“And you know what, I bet you the next Democratic debate, they’ll all be saying impeach Kavanaugh, impeach Trump,” Cruz said. “There’s nobody they don’t want to impeach. And at some point, they just have to let the anger go and recognize that the democratic process actually moves on. And I think it’s time for them to do that.”

Last October, Trump offered Kavanaugh and his family an unusual apology after attending his ceremonial swearing-in.

“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” he said at the time.

Almost a year on, Kavanaugh’s tenure has been largely untroubled by the controversy. But the resurfacing of the allegations led to calls for renewed scrutiny against the judge, seemingly drawing Trump’s ire.

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Trump Makes Political Ploy of Cruelty to Separated Immigrant Kids

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Trump Makes Political Ploy of Cruelty to Separated Immigrant Kids

Rep. Ben Ray Luján talks with Rachel Maddow about how the Trump administration continues to separate immigrant children from their families and subjecting them to appalling conditions both as political leverage against Democrats and as a political show for his base.

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“Human Trafficking The Silent epidemic”

Atrocities rob people of all walks of life of their civil liberties and personal freedoms.

billions of people are sold in to human trafficking, their identities blotted out and altered.

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“The Silent Epidemic”

                                                                                                                                                                                          Atrocities rob people of all walks of life of their civil liberties and personal freedoms.

billions of people are sold in to human trafficking, their identities blotted out and altered. Brainwashed

they are oppressed by their attackers .this problem will not  go away, we must

face it head on attack the problem at its source. this heinous crime exposes our most sensitive

vulnerabilities, families are broken left with out closure. driven by desperation they seek  help from

law enforcement and private investigators. this epidemic affects men, women, and children.

leaving a painful wound , that affects every aspect of their lives.

this  gaping wound is filled with pain, and emptiness. their eternal vision is

distorted by mistrust, anger, worry, anxiety. a deep spiritual unrest that permeates the

the very core of who they are. their self image, and  eternal perception of self is warped

and twisted. their spirits are broken, they are hardened, and apathetic.

the nature of this crime is cold and calculated. deception skews the victims concept of love.

Recovery numbers are hundreds of children per year typically the recovery rate is less then

1% of the actual trafficked population. this nightmare has no boundaries. it robs many nations of

its youth. damaging the  structure of the family keeping it divided and dsyfunctional  the loss of

the structure of the family negatively impacts the world. causing our society  to lack  sensitivity

care, and consideration  desensitized by the depravity of this enormous problem, innocence, awe

and wonder is replaced with speculation,indifference,apathy  no one wants to take responsibility,

no one wants involvement. this erodes love. the capacity to give love and  to receive love is marred by anger mistrust a painful emotional experience that compounds the problem affecting every one

that is suffering from the ill effects of despondency.

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