In April of this year, renowned drug researcher David Nutt and the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme team confirmed what many ravers already knew to be true: listening to music enhances the experience of LSD. Earlier this month, the field that we might informally call Acid Studies was expanded just a little further when Nutt and a number of other distinguished professionals, including lead author Dr. Neiloufar Family, published a study exploring LSD's relationship with language.
Titled "Semantic activation in LSD: evidence from picture naming," the study involved ten participants who were given LSD and a placebo one week apart, and asked to name a sequence of pictures. It found that people who had taken LSD seemed to have their relationship with language and logic altered.
"Results showed that while LSD does not affect reaction times," said Family in an interview with Science Daily about the study, "people under LSD made more mistakes that were similar in meaning to the pictures they saw."
The researchers found that the drug seems to effect the brain's semantic networks, which deal with words and concepts, leading to a "generic defocusing, hyper-associative effect" in the way people interact with language, according to the report.
"Inducing a hyper-associative state may have implications for the enhancement of creativity," said Family. This might be because it modifies the way we interact with the contents of our own brain. Family said: "The effects of LSD on language can result in a cascade of associations that allow quicker access to far away concepts stored in the mind."
Participants on LSD were more likely to misidentify the contents of images than those under the placebo. Interestingly, in instances where they described images incorrectly, the descriptions they did use tended to contain words from similar groups of meanings as the correct answer. For example, if a picture depicted a whale, they might have said "dolphin" or "fish."
Family also added that the study's results "can lead to a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of semantic network activation," exploring the way the infrastructure of the nervous system is connected to the way we deal with language or logic.
Have you ever wondered what LSD looks like under a microscope?
Follow Alexander on Twitter.