Amando Flavi


When people get high, the common assumption we make is that they have taken psychedelics. But according to a brain expert, this assumption would be rendered obsolete soon as there is a new scientific way to alter the human consciousness without using drugs.

Heather Hargraves, an expert in therapeutic applications of altered states of consciousness at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, told IFLScience that a supercomputer is a model of the human brain, and just as the computer can be manipulated to perform certain tasks, so can the brain.

Other experts already agree that the experience known as “reality” is actually just a trick that our brains play on us. The brain is carefully filtering the sensory information that the world presents to us in order to generate a workable perspective on things.

Therefore, the parameters of the human consciousness can be modified by just destabilizing these finely tuned filters. One way to do this is by altering their electrical signals, or brainwaves.

Depending on what you want to feel, you’ll need to choose carefully from the menu of different brainwaves and their associated effects. For example, theta waves have a frequency of 4 to 8 Hz and are linked to intuition, but can also lead to excessive daydreaming when they are too high in amplitude.

“Shamans enter into theta states, which is dreamy, intuitive, open but focused in an internal way”, Hargraves explained.

In fact, scientists previously thought that theta waves were the key to psychedelic experiences, but this changed when researchers began performing electroencephalography (EEG) studies on people under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.

Further studies revealed what Hargraves described as a “broadband squish”, a situation in which all brainwaves in the range of 0 to 20 Hz are “shut down” in certain regions of the brain, before “rebounding”.

This effect was particularly noticeable in a brain network called the default mode network, which regulates consciousness and is largely responsible for maintaining a sense of self.

Although it is illegal to use drugs to alter consciousness, Hargraves is helping to develop a legal biohack to bring about the same effect as she believes the brain ‘hack’ technique is like “meditation with a mirror” or “Neurofeedback”, which enables people to learn to control their own brainwaves.

Currently, Hargraves is using the technique to help trauma patients regulate their alpha and beta waves, which tend to cause anxiety and depression when they are overactive. She believes people would have the freedom one day to alter their consciousness without using drugs.