Psychedelic Science 2023

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On the Varieties of Conscious Experiences: Altered Beliefs Under Psychedelics (ALBUS)


On the Varieties of Conscious Experiences: Altered Beliefs Under Psychedelics (ALBUS)

According to the highly influential model of "Relaxed Beliefs Under Psychedelics" (REBUS), 5-HT2a agonism is thought to help relax prior expectations, thus making room for new perspectives and patterns. Inspired by the REBUS model, here we introduce an alternative (but largely compatible) perspective which proposes that opposite effects may occur along much of the dose-response curve of 5-HT2a signaling, in which synchronous neural activity becomes more powerful, with accompanying "Strengthened Beliefs Under Psychedelics" (SEBUS) effects. We believe that REBUS effects are indeed crucially important aspects of psychedelic experiences, but suggest these exist alongside SEBUS effects in various combinations. As such, we propose a larger integrative perspective for understanding "Altered Beliefs Under Psychedelics” (ALBUS). The ALBUS framework provides a rich account of cognition based on predictive processing, which we believe provides a means of fruitfully integrating across theories of psychedelic action. Our overarching goal is to present a unifying model in which multiple perspectives can be synergistically brought together to describe the different ways in which various beliefs are strengthened and/or relaxed under different conditions. While we explore a diverse range of sometimes complex ideas, our basic idea is fundamentally simple: psychedelic experiences can be understood as kinds of waking dream states of varying degrees of lucidity, with similar underlying mechanisms.

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