Creativity can be unlocked by ‘microdoses’ of psychedelics, new research suggests.
Taking very small amounts of psychoactive substances, like magic mushrooms or truffles — known as ‘microdosing’ — is thought to avoid the ‘bad trip’, but still provide creative benefits.
Microdosing has become fashionable among Silicon Valley workers and others looking for a creative boost.
Now, the first study of the phenomenon suggests microdosing might be effective.
The study involved giving 36 people a microdose of psychedelic truffles (0.37g).
They were then given tests of creativity and intelligence.
The results showed that people were more creative after consuming the microdose of truffles.
Ms Luisa Prochazkova, the study’s first author, said:
“Taken together, our results suggest that consuming a microdose of truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking.
Moreover, we also observed an improvement in convergent thinking, that is, increased performance on a task that requires the convergence on one single correct or best solution.”
However, the microdose did not affect their intelligence or analytical abilities.
Ms Prochazkova said:
“Apart from its benefits as a potential cognitive enhancement technique, microdosing could be further investigated for its therapeutic efficacy to help individuals who suffer from rigid thought patterns or behavior such as individuals with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
However, note that the study had no control group, so the results could be down to expectations: what’s usually called the placebo effect.
In other words, it is possible people believed they were going to be more creative after microdosing, and so they were.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology (Prochazkova et al., 2018).