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Psychedelics make you more creative… or do they?

That psychedelics like psilocybin can increase creativity is a prominent feature of the memesphere of psychedelic culture. And with good reason.

It’s not a difficult venture to find psychedelics of some variety or another as catalysts for some of the most profound movements in the history of visual art, music, literature, and even scientific advances (e.g. Francis Crick and the discovery of the double helix).

But, apart from a couple of studies from the pre-prohibition era of psychedelic research, there is little scientific research on this phenomenon. That is, until now, and the results are not what the researchers expected.

the effects of psilocybin on creativity

For today’s episode, we welcome two of the researchers behind the paper Spontaneous and deliberate creative cognition during and after psilocybin exposure. They are Natasha Mason and Jan Raemakers.

Natasha Mason PhD, is a post-doc at Maastricht University, Dept of Psychopharmacology. She has a background in (neuro)psychology and pharmacy. Utilizing multimodal study designs, her current research assesses drug-induced neuroadaptations and their influence on affect, behavior, and cognition. Within this focus, she has a strong interest in the underlying mechanisms of psychedelic drug action, and particularly those which may hold therapeutic value for disorders like anxiety and depression.

Dr. Jan Ramaekers works as a professor in psychopharmacology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. His research combines methods from psychopharmacology, forensic toxicology and cognitive neuroscience to determine drug-induced changes in human performance. He focuses on the impact of different substances of (ab)use, including medicinal drugs, cannabis, MDMA, cocaine, novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and psychedelics on neuronal networks and human cognitive control.

They are on the show to discuss the effects of psilocybin on creativity; the challenge of measuring creativity in a lab; the role creativity plays in mental health; and even the connections between psychedelics, creativity, and movements in art and culture.


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Episode Breakdown

  • A disambiguation of the term Creativity; convergent vs divergent thinking
  • The difficulty of determining what qualifies as creative in creativity research
  • Creativity is defined by culture, too
  • Creativity and its role in mental health; creativity is an essential cognitive ability
  • How creative thinking can help with depression
  • Cognitive flexibility, psychedelics, and healing depression
  • The neurophysiology of creativity
  • Creativity and the default mode network
  • Outline their study on the effects of psilocybin on creativity and its results
  • How much psilocybin (dose) were they giving people and why?
  • How they measured the personal sense of being creative
  • Psychedelics, art, and creativity research
  • The role of glutamate in the ego dissolution experience
  • The window of opportunity for neuroplasticity after psychedelics
  • Glutamate, psilocybin, excitotoxicity, and depression
  • The psychedelic encounters with near-death are protecting the brain (maybe)
  • What’s next in their research on the effects of psilocybin on creativity

Related Links

Research Papers

Lectures From Natasha Mason, PhD


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