Basis Neuro is a reality, not a placebo

The well-known placebo effect shows up when using various “improving” gadgets or chemicals that have pseudo effects. It is based on self-suggestion and a short-term mental response associated with therapeutic procedures. At BasisNeuro, we do a lot of testing. Moreover, similar research is carried out by many laboratories and universities around the world. It is well known that the method of neural stimulation has clinically validated therapeutic foundations and effects, but numerous studies are trying to find out whether effects can be simulated using a placebo. Relatively recently, an unusual study of the relationship between alcoholic intoxication and mystical experiences was carried out during brain placebo stimulation. It was revealed that people prone to mysticism hallucinate more often than others when their brain is pseudostimulated.

It is known that there are ritual ceremonies in many cultures that are performed using alcohol or narcotic substances. Various psychoactive substances are widely used in religious rituals all over the world in order to enter an altered state of mind and enter a mystical experience. However, the degree of influence of psychoactivators on the brain when performing such rituals has not yet been sufficiently studied.

Researchers from the Psychology Department at the University of Amsterdam have suggested that alcohol intoxication in a ritual context may contribute to the emergence of unusual mental experiences, and the influence of alcohol can make people less critical of perceiving allegedly supernatural phenomena.

To find out whether alcohol is really capable of causing mystical and spiritual experiences, the researchers conducted a three-day experiment at a music festival, where its visitors were offered to try on a helmet capable of ensuring incomparable “divine” experiences. 193 people decided to participate in such an experiment.

First of all, they were asked to fill out a simple questionnaire where they indicated their experience or a propensity for paranormal experiences. In addition, each participant was examined for alcohol use. It turned out that 73.2% of participants used alcohol on the day of the experiment, 16.8% used alcohol and drugs, 7.4% used neither alcohol nor drugs, and 2.6% used only drugs.

Each participant in the main study put on a disguised skateboarding helmet and blindfold and listened to the recording of blank noise in the headphones for 15 minutes. They were asked to press the button in case of any unusual experience or sensation. Researchers told participants that the helmet would stimulate their brain during the study and various indicators would be monitored. In fact, the device did not record any indicators, and the wires sticking out of the helmet were not connected to devices for brain stimulation. The helmet had no effect on the testee and was just an item for placebo stimulation.

The majority of participants noted various sensations, including hallucinations, in the course of such experiments. Of these, almost 80% experienced weak physical sensations, 30% experienced more pronounced sensations. Some faced a change in the perception of space and time.

Reports of the study participants:

“I felt like I was swimming, as if I was no longer in a chair”.
“Strong gravity or magnetic force pulled my head back. I wanted to push my head back, but it was simply impossible.”
“Some force wanted to let me know about its presence and press the button.”

“I felt like the helmet was trying to grab control over me. My head was turning, my eyes were spinning,” said one of the participants in the experiment.
“I got up from the chair, it fell, and I was floating in the air. The table was violently trembling, and I felt a dark figure behind me. It whispered something in my ear, but I could not understand.”

It turned out that about a third of the participants were skeptical or distracted by something during the experiment, and judging by the results of testing, they were least likely to mystical experiences. At the same time, narcotic and alcoholic intoxication did not have significant effect on the results of the experiment, while the unusual “mystical” experience was more often experienced by people who considered themselves to be the most spiritual.

“Although, however, we did not find strong evidence that alcohol intoxication increased the susceptibility of people to mind manipulation, we are going to repeat the experiment with higher doses of alcohol,” the researchers concluded.

The study was published in Journal Religion, Brain & Behavior.

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