Ayahuasca is an amerindian psychoactive sacrament used worldwide. Neuroscience studies have shown contradictory results regarding its effects in the brain (Don et al, 1998, Hoffmann et al, 2001, Riba et al, 2002, 2004, Stuckey et al, 2005, dos Santos et al, 2012). Combining EEG, plasma samples and robust statistics, we’ve uncovered biphasic effects in the brain which are related to many psychoactive compounds, not only N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), as previously proposed.
To achieve this breakthrough, we had to deal with a series of technological and conceptual challenges. Since we faced a situation involving an altered state of consciousness, which makes remaining quiet and immobile very challenging, we anticipated noisy signals. Ayahuasca’s effects last at least four hours, possibly more. Thus, deciding which segments to analyze and how to best deal with a large multidimensional dataset was an additional challenge (channels, time, frequency, and subjects as its four dimensions, plus the plasmatic levels of chemical compounds over time)
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