OPEN Foundation

M. Schartner

Neural network models for DMT-induced visual hallucinations


The regulatory role of the serotonergic system on conscious perception can be investigated perturbatorily with psychedelic drugs such as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. There is increasing evidence that the serotonergic system gates prior (endogenous) and sensory (exogenous) information in the construction of a conscious experience. Using two generative deep neural networks as examples, we discuss how such models have the potential to be, firstly, an important medium to illustrate phenomenological visual effects of psychedelics-besides paintings, verbal reports and psychometric testing-and, secondly, their utility to conceptualize biological mechanisms of gating the influence of exogenous and endogenous information on visual perception.

Schartner, M. M., & Timmermann, C. (2020). Neural network models for DMT-induced visual hallucinations. Neuroscience of consciousness, 2020(1), niaa024.

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Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin


What is the level of consciousness of the psychedelic state? Empirically, measures of neural signal diversity such as entropy and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) complexity score higher for wakeful rest than for states with lower conscious level like propofol-induced anesthesia. Here we compute these measures for spontaneous magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals from humans during altered states of consciousness induced by three psychedelic substances: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD. For all three, we find reliably higher spontaneous signal diversity, even when controlling for spectral changes. This increase is most pronounced for the single-channel LZ complexity measure, and hence for temporal, as opposed to spatial, signal diversity. We also uncover selective correlations between changes in signal diversity and phenomenological reports of the intensity of psychedelic experience. This is the first time that these measures have been applied to the psychedelic state and, crucially, that they have yielded values exceeding those of normal waking consciousness. These findings suggest that the sustained occurrence of psychedelic phenomenology constitutes an elevated level of consciousness – as measured by neural signal diversity.
Schartner, M. M., Carhart-Harris, R. L., Barrett, A. B., Seth, A. K., & Muthukumaraswamy, S. D. (2017). Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin. Scientific Reports, 7. 10.1038/srep46421
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21 March - Ketamine Discussion with Celia Morgan, Filip Tylš & Will Barone