Silicon Valley is always at the forefront of weird trends to improve human performance. This can range from cool, such as bean bag chairs in conference rooms, to the bizarre, like transfusing blood from young people into older people to slow down aging. But one of the latest trends is to take small doses of psychedelic drugs to improve brain function. And there might actually be some science behind it.
Amanda Feilding is the founder of the Beckley Foundation and a researcher in psychedelics and consciousness. Her latest experiment is to determine whether or not microdoses of LSD can help cognitive functions. Microdosing is when a person takes a very small amount, usually about 1/10th of a normal dose, of LSD or another similar drug so that it has only a minimal effect on the user. For years, people have argued that this method improve people's brainpower, but Feilding has designed a test to see if it's actually true.
Feilding has created a controlled experiment in which participants will either be given a small dose of LSD or a placebo and then play an ancient Chinese game called "Go" against a computer. She says she designed the experiment based off her experiences as a student almost 50 years ago. She said she and her fellow researchers would often play Go against each other, and she realized that she often played better against her opponents when she had taken LSD than when she hadn't. She says that using Go in her experiments is a better way to test participants about increased creativity while microdosing.
“The tests of creativity, which are current, like Torrance Test, they don’t really test for creativity. They test more for intelligence, or word recognition, or whatever,” says Feilding. “They can’t test those ‘aha’ moments in putting new insights together, whereas the Go game does test for that. You suddenly see, ‘Aha! That’s the right move to enclose the space.’”
While other experiments and studies into the effects of microdosing do exist, many of them are not controlled in a lab. Therefore their results are often called into question by more mainstream psychological experts. But if Feilding's study proves conclusive, then microdosing may become more legitimate in the medical community.
You'd think every great rock album in the late 1960s would be enough to prove the positive effects of LSD, but apparently not.