On Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 2:27 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

>> All of this indicates that salvinorin A has potent but short-lived
>> effects on the brain systems involved in memory, identity, body image
>> and perception of time and space (along with a host of other effects
>> not discussed here).  Regardless of one's view on the use of these
>> substances to alter one's cognition, it seems there is a great
>> opportunity to study these effects to zero in on how these brain
>> systems are related to our subjective experience of reality.
> Very difficult task, but very interesting, and probably parts of the
> experience/experiments needed to build an artificial brain.

A double-blind study protocol to test for particular effects would be
difficult to design, no doubt.  I don't understand your reference to
the need for an artificial brain.

However, it would still be possible to carry out experimentation to
correlate subjective reports of these altered "1-pov" percepts with
"3-pov" data obtained by FMRI, EEG, etc.  Unfortunately, current laws
in the U.S. restrict experimentation of this type to therapeutic
applications.  It is possible to test to see whether MDMA is a
successful treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, but not, say
only to find out the dose/response curve for its psychedelic

Absent those types of studies, it would still be enormously
educational for someone to conduct a meta-analysis of the many
thousands of first-hand written and recorded reports of Salvia
Divinorum use.  While far from being a random sample, at least one
would have a better map of the territory to guide further research.

> Well, if we define a drug by something harmful and addictive, then
> salvia is not known to be a drug today, because there are no evidence
> it is harmful nor evidence it is addictive.

Indeed, animal studies to date have shown that salvinorin A
administration reduces the levels of dopamine in the portions of the
brain associated with addiction and craving, which is exactly opposite
the effects of strongly addictive and euphoriant drugs like cocaine
and methamphetamine.  Whether this is true in human brains remains to
be seen (and difficult to study due to reasons above).

In any case, this discussion is probably more relevant in other
forums.  I brought it up only because we frequently discuss
consciousness, memory and identity, and lo and behold there is a drug
which has radical effects on the subjective experience of all three,
and a body of written reports to examine.

Johnathan Corgan


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