Any man could, if he were so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain.”— Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Nobel Prize-winning Spanish neuroscientist
Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity or neural plasticity, is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout your life.
While it was believed for many decades that our brain was a nonrenewable organ and that brain cells were bestowed in a finite amount, dying slowly as we age. We now know that the brain can form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired.
During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting the neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful, and strengthening the necessary ones. This process can be affected by inputs from your emotions, behaviors, experiences, and even thoughts.
For example, people suffering from depression or stress-related conditions, often have fewer connections, or fewer overall neurons, in specific parts of the brain.
There are two main types of neuroplasticity:
- Structural neuroplasticity, in which the strength of the connections between neurons (or synapses) changes.
- Functional neuroplasticity, in which the synapses change permanently due to learning and development, leading to changes to the actual structure of the brain.
Both types offer exciting capabilities and a study by researchers at the University of California showed that serotonergic psychedelics, including psilocin, increase neuritogenesis (new growth of neurons), spinogenesis (growth of spines on neurons), and synaptogenesis (the formation of synapses between neurons), thus promoting both forms of neuroplasticity.
This partially explains magic truffles’ therapeutic potential. Not only for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric disorders, but also by offering potential avenues for psychological change, such as “opening up the possibility to reinvent yourself and move away from the status quo or enabling you to overcome past traumatic events that evoke anxiety and stress.” (Christopher Bergland)
And that is, of course, great news.
Above: Functional connectivity of a normal brain (a) compared to a brain on psilocybin (b).
Inspired to learn more about psychedelics? Check my What are psychedelics? What does science say? article.
If you’re interested in a personalized psilocybin retreat, please have a look at the Truffle Transformation Experience.