How do psychedelics expand perception?


Psychedelics, such as psilocybin, expand perception through a variety of changes in sensory and cognitive processing. According to , the effects include:

  1. Alteration of Perception of Space and Time: Psychedelics alter how individuals perceive space and time, often resulting in a sense of expanded perception or dreamlike states where the normal constructs of space and time do not seem to apply 1.

  2. Perceptual Blending (Synesthesia): Users may experience synesthesia, where senses blend together in unusual ways—such as seeing sounds or hearing colors. This perceptual blending extends to other sensations, such as linking patterns of breathing to auditory or visual perceptions 2.

  3. Intensification of Emotional and Sensory Experiences: Emotional and sensory experiences can become much more intense and encompassing, potentially leading to profound subjective and introspective experiences 3.

    Psychedelics and Perception

    Andrew and Sam discuss the utility and risks of psychedelic drugs in altering perception and spacetime relationship, and its intersection with the discussion on recognition of the self and brain changes.

    Huberman Lab

    Dr. Sam Harris: Using Meditation to Focus, View Consciousness & Expand Your Mind | Huberman Lab 105
  4. Exploration and Re-evaluation of Personal Perspectives: The expanded perceptual and emotional experiences can lead people to explore and potentially re-evaluate their personal beliefs, emotional states, and perceptions of the world, which can have therapeutic effects, especially for conditions like depression 4.

These effects occur due to the chemical interaction of psychedelics like psilocybin with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the serotonin 2A receptor, influencing various neural circuits responsible for perception and cognition 5.