Although the research is controversial, psychedelics have been found to have many positive effects from decreasing pain perception to reducing depressive symptoms. However, the research has not advanced much in the last few years due to psychedelics' bad reputation and negative perception as recreational drugs.
That may soon change. UC Berkeley has launched the campus’s first center for psychedelic science and public education with $1.25 million in seed funding from an anonymous donor.
According to the school's press statement, the "new UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics will conduct research using psychedelics to investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain." It will also seek to educate the public about psychedelics with the first experiments focusing on psilocybin, the principal psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms.
“There’s never been a better time to start a center like this,” said UC Berkeley neuroscientist David Presti, one of the center’s founding members. “The renewal of basic and clinical science with psychedelics has catalyzed interest among many people.”
“We’re really interested in what psychedelics can teach us about consciousness, perception, creativity, and learning,” said journalism professor and co-founder of the center Michael Pollan.
As much as science has advanced today, the mechanisms behind the efficacy of psychedelic compounds in treating mental health disorders still remains a mystery. However, it is impossible to deny that these compounds offer beneficial improvements in cognitive flexibility, visual perception, and patterns of brain activity. This is why it is so crucial that they be studied properly.
“Some of these studies have produced striking results in cases that are otherwise resistant to more conventional medical treatment. This suggests that psychedelic compounds may offer new hope for people suffering from these disorders,” said UC Berkeley neuroscientist Michael Silver, inaugural director of the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics.