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Study: Magic Mushrooms Alter Brain Function Similarly to REM Sleep

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that there are some similarities between the way part of the human brain reacts to magic mushrooms and LSD and its reaction to REM sleep.

Researchers used fMRI imaging to study the brains of 15 participants, both in a normal state and under the influence of psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms. The study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, found that the drug changed brain activity in the area known as the hippocampus -- notably, the same area is often the primary area impacted by Alzheimer's disease.

The hippocampus is responsible for memory and spatial navigation.

Also affected by the drug was an area of the anterior cingulate cortex, important in regulating blood pressure, heart rate, emotion, impulse control and empathy.

Perhaps most interesting is that previous studies have shown similar changes, particularly in the hippocampus, in brains under the influence of LSD, non-drug induced psychotic states and REM sleep.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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