Scientists Say A Mind-Bending Rhythm In The Brain Can Act Like Ketamine

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Scientists used light to control the firing of specific cells to artificially create a rhythm in the brain, which acted like the mind- bending drug Ketamine

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Out-of-body experiences are all about rhythm, a team reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. In mice and one person, scientists were able to reproduce the altered state often associated with ketamine by inducing certain brain cells to fire together in a slow-rhythmic fashion. “There was a rhythm that appeared and it was an oscillation that appeared only when the patient was dissociating,” says Dr. Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Stanford University. Dissociation is a brain state in which a person feels separated from their own thoughts, feelings and body. It is common in people with some mental illnesses, or who have experienced a traumatic event. It can also be induced by certain drugs, including ketamine and PCP (angel dust).

The study linking dissociation to brain rhythms represents “a big leap forward in understanding how these drugs produce this unique state,” says Dr. Ken Solt, an anesthesiologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Solt is the co-author of …

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