What Happens to Your Brain On Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms have historically been used for ancient rituals, getting to know oneself better and for…well…feeling good. But new studies are pointing to it having yet another use, a cure for depression and anxiety.

It turns out that the effects of psilocybin may impact the brain in positive ways. And while further study is needed, there’s a lot of evidence showing that magical mushrooms might just shut off that negative chatter in the mind.

So, how do they do it? What exactly goes on in a brain on mushrooms?

This Is Your Brain On Drugs

Much like other psychedelics, shrooms are thought to connect to the parts of your brain related to serotonin (the good feelings chemical). Like marjuana, it can also lead to feelings of relaxation and comfort, but unlike marijuana, it moves beyond just physical stimulation. 

Magic mushrooms affect the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for mood, perception, thought processes and abstract thinking. These areas tend to become more active during the use of psilocybin, while other parts are dampened. Specifically, the part of the brain that connects us to our sense of self.

Here’s a side by side visualization of a brain on mushrooms compared to one that was given a placebo. This is an artistic rendering of the increased brain activity and new connections that are formed while taking mushrooms.

Not only did psilocybin mute some of our more detrimental brain patterns, it created completely new patterns within the brain.

Things you may experience while on mushrooms:


People have reported mild hallucinations that include patterns and unusual movement in their surroundings

The feeling of anxiety or discomfort

Though some people report the feeling of anxiety for a few minutes up to a few hours, during the use of psilocybin, they also reported a feeling of relief and decreased anxiety after use. 

Feeling more creative or imaginative

Many people feel more open, more appreciative of their surroundings and feel more creative. 

Dilated pupils

Pupils may become dilated due to increased serotonin levels.

A skewed sense of time

A commonly reported side effect of mushroom use is the idea that time slows down.

Out of body experiences

This experience is usually dictated by the dosage taken, but some have reported the feeling of leaving their body and seeing themselves involved in experiences that did not take place.

What Does It All Mean?

Well… these findings may open the door to new treatments for depression and anxiety. Researchers have found that dulling our connection to the over analytical parts of the mind may help stop us from overthinking. It also creates new brain patterns and connections and gives us a sense of something greater than ourselves.

In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, it was found that participants showed a 60 – 80% decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms six months after the initial study was conducted. Similar results were seen in another study at NYU, with their participants showing 60 – 80 % less symptoms 6.5 months after their initial use of mushrooms. 

While there haven’t been enough studies done to show any concrete evidence, the door is now open for these trials to take place, which means we may be seeing more information on how exactly our brains are affected by hallucinogens. Not only the effects, but the medicinal properties of these drugs that have been ignored for so long.

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