Despite the fact that modern medicine has a pretty detailed presentation on the functioning of the human body, certain aspects of our physiology are still not solved until the end. And sometimes the research aimed at the study of a particular system is presented to us not a few surprises. So it was with a team of experts from Stanford University. In examining the work of the Central nervous system they were able to produce hallucinations without the use of drugs and narcotics.
Why people see hallucinations?
Hallucinations can be different in its manifestation: the person may hear sounds, see silhouettes, feel, touch, smell, in General, in varying degrees, to certain signals from, as it seems, the world. But all kinds of hallucinations are United by one thing: what happens to a person in the real world does not exist. This is just a subjective perception. But what caused it?
This is interesting: capable of what our brain?
If you try to explain in simple language, the appearance of hallucinations caused by bursts of activity in the brain. The reasons for this can be various: from changes in the work of the brain to injury, poisoning, or ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs. But recently, physiologists from Stanford University were able to cause experimental animals hallucinations in a rather unusual way.
How can cause hallucinations?
As the editors of the journal Science, scientists focused on the study of visual cortex in laboratory mice. This is the part of the brain in mice (as in humans), which processes information coming from the retina. Roughly speaking, this allows us to see. In the area of the visual cortex was implanted 2 gene. The first was in “sleep” state until, until he started to influence the infrared radiation. The second encoded a protein that would Shine green whenever the neuron in the cortex would respond to external stimuli. That is, it showed “working” at the moment the neuron or not. In addition, part of the skull of the mice was replaced with a transparent “window” in order to observe how the brain works.
Then the animals “sat” in front of the screen and began to learn to distinguish between vertical and horizontal black lines on the screen with a white background. Then the mice were trained to drink water from the straw every time they saw a black vertical bar. When the training was over, began the most interesting part of the experiment. Scientists began gradually to reduce the contrast between a black bar and a white background, while the mouse did not cease to understand what they see before them. All this time experts were observing brain activity and observed which areas glow green. That is, the areas to work. Further, the physiologists used precision infrared light emitters in order to “cover” those parts of the brainresponsible for information processing.
In the end it turned out that if you stimulate the part of the brain that causes mice to see a vertical bar, the rodents began to drink. It turns out that the animals have seen a vertical bar, while in front of them at this point was completely white screen.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of the study is the fact that to call the hallucinations we needed to stimulate a total of 20 neurons, — says one of the authors Karl Deisseroth. If you consider that the human brain and the mouse is very similar in structure, it can be concluded that the occurrence of hallucinations is much more interesting from the point of view of physiology the process. After all, the brain regularly have dozens or hundreds of “spontaneous impulse”, however, it does not mean that everything we see is hallucinations. There may be some “protective mechanism”, a search which is worth doing.