This theory-building article (2022) proposes that the dream, hypnagogic and psychedelic states share common features that make them conducive to supporting some aspects of scientific creativity and examines the putative underlying neurophenomenological and cognitive processes involved. The psychedelic state may have the potential to enhance creativity as a result of phenomena like brain hyperconnectivity, meta-cognitive awareness and more.
This trial (n=60) assessed the effects of psilocybin (12mg/70kg) on measures of creative thinking. Psilocybin increased ratings of (spontaneous) creative insights while decreasing (deliberate) task-based creativity. Seven days after psilocybin, the number of novel ideas increased. It was found that the acute and persisting effects were predicted by within- and between-network connectivity of the default mode network.
This trial (n=32) assessed the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and subjective effects of 50, 75, and 100 µg LSD in healthy adults within a novel intervention paradigm. Participants received 50 (n = 3), 75 (n = 7), 100 (n = 3) LSD, 50 µg followed by 75 µg LSD (n = 9) 1 week apart, or placebo followed by a 75 µg LSD (n = 10) 1 week apart. No serious adverse events were reported, This data indicates that LSD is safe and well-tolerated with mild adverse events reported.
This double-blind placebo-controlled study (n=24) assessed the impact LSD (50μg) has on measures of creativity. Near peak drug effects, participants were given a number of creative tasks to complete. Creativity was then assessed by scoring creativity criteria, calculating divergent thinking and convergent thinking, computing semantic distances and searching for data-driven special features. Compared to placebo, LSD changed several creativity measurements pointing to pattern break, disorganization and meaning which seemed to fundamentally influence creative cognition and behaviour.
This survey (n=536) showcases a possible synergy between meditation and psychedelic use. Those who experienced ego dissolution also found meditation to be more effective, which also served as lowering the barrier to meditation and motivation to practice it. Those who meditated (about half of the original larger survey) also were more likely to use psychedelics and experience ego dissolution.
This double-blind placebo-controlled preprint study (n=34) assessed the effects of microdosing psilocybin (0.5g dried mushrooms, about 0.9mg psilocybin) on subjective experience, behaviour, creativity, perception, cognition, and brain activity. Participants received two doses (psilocybin/placebo) which were administered separately, one week apart. Subjective effects were more intense for the active dose, while null effects or a trend towards cognitive were observed. Expectation effects may be, in part, responsible for the anecdotal benefits of microdosing.
This provisionally accepted study (n=40) explored the effects of ayahuasca on processes involved in stress-related psychopathologies. Volunteers attending an ayahuasca ceremony were given a series of questionnaires at baseline, the morning after and one week after the experience. Researchers found ingesting ayahuasca is associated with positive therapeutic outcomes.
This diary study investigates the "safe and beneficial" use of psychedelics in small quantities (microdosing; 10 micrograms LSD) to improve positive moods by evaluating positive and negative emotional states using the PANAS checklist and written reports. The study showed that microdosing of a psychedelic in clinical and non-clinical populations improved health habits, increased energy, and improved work effectiveness. Furthermore, smaller samples demonstrated alleviation of symptoms in migraine headaches, traumatic brain injury, pre-menstrual syndromes (PMS), shingles, and other such conditions that have not been previously associated with psychedelic use.
This preprint of three double-blind placebo-controlled longitudinal experiments (n=175) investigated the effects of microdosing psilocybin (0.74 - 1.71mg) on creativity and found that it increased the originality of their ideas while generating novel applications for ordinary things (divergent thinking). However, it did not increase the number of novel ideas, or their ability to detect features that are common across multiple things (convergent thinking).
This longitudinal study (n=57) investigated the effects of ayahuasca and found improved convergent thinking/creativity, decreased ratings of depression and stress up to four weeks later. These changes were significantly correlated with the level of ego dissolution experienced during the acute trip/ceremony.
This study compared the creativity levels of 15 recreational MDMA users, 15 cannabis users, and 15 controls. It found higher scores for cannabis users on one scale and self-rating of creativity on another scale for MDMA users. As this was just an observational study, nothing much about the creativity of all three groups can be said.
This systematic review (2017) examines 14 empirical studies and 5 case studies that investigated the relationship between artistic creativity and psychoactive substance use. The nature of this relationship is not clearly established, given that most studies had a very small sample size, unrepresentative samples, overreliance on self-report, non-standardized assessment tools, and speculative research questions. Results indicate that psychoactive substances may change the quality of artistic work even amongst ordinary individuals by modifying functions related to creativity (enhancing experiences and sensitivity and loosening conscious processes), but the correlation of increased psychoactive substance use amongst artists may alternatively be a form of self-medication which stabilizes an unstable mode of functioning that is related to their creativity.
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
This double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects study (n=60) investigated the effects of psilocybin (11.9 mg/70kg) on creativity in healthy participants, with respect to acute and persisting changes in convergent and divergent thinking in relation to restructuralization of Default Mode Network (DMN) connectivity. Although subjects felt more insightful under the acute psychedelic state, their ability to generate ideas and associations in a goal-directed manner was impaired. However, 7 days after psilocybin administration, participants generated a higher quantity of novel ideas for uses of an everyday object. Decreased integrity of the DMN under the acute state was the strongest predictor of subjective insightfulness, acute decrease in scores of originality, and a long-term increase in the generation of novel ideas.
This self-blinding experiment (n=191) finds that the placebo and microdosing groups both experienced similar improvements in self-rated psychological well-being and cognitive function (e.g. mood, energy, creativity) after four weeks. This study provides more evidence that microdosing benefits can be attributed to expectancy (placebo) effects.
This review looked at 77 studies with psychedelics and entactogens, to see how their effects relate to concepts of positive psychology. Psychedelics and entactogens showed positive effects e.g. on well-being, prosocial behaviours, empathy, creativity, personality, values and mindfulness. However, the authors stress that more longitudinal data on positive and adverse effects is needed.
This literature review (1999) looks at European research with (psychedelics) drugs on creativity between 1940-1970. A disinhibiting effect of psychedelics (allowing creative breakthroughs) is proposed.
This open-label study (n=55) found that a high-dose of psilocybin at a retreat led to more divergent thinking and emotional empathy the day after (n=50). At seven days (n=22) enhancement of convergent thinking and well-being persisted.
This open-label study (n=40) on those who participated in a two-week ayahuasca retreat found that they had more creative (divergent, 'high originality', 'phosphenes') responses after the retreat. The participants, however, also had a higher baseline on this creativity measure.
This study used a questionnaire (n=909, 65% of which microdosed) which included the Unusual Uses Tasks as a proxy for divergent creativity. They found that people who microdosed psychedelics (mostly LSD (65%) and psilocybin (28%)) were more creative (p < 0.001, r = 0.15).
This study (n=68) found that having a mystical experience during psychedelic use is correlated with quicker completion times on a measure of creativity (completion time of Duncker's Candle Problem). The number of mystical experiences was not correlated with completion time.
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
Cited by 27
Find Psychedelic Papers
Find all relevant psychedelic research papers in our ever-growing database. Here we cover and connect the latest research and seminal papers. From early open-label psychedelic studies with healthy volunteers to large-scale double-blind placebo-controlled trials.
We have not only indexed over 1400 papers, but have added additional contexts such as type of study, a compound studied, which paper it’s related to, the trial associated with a study, and over 30 more variables.
More coverage of psychedelic research can be found on our Research page.
Become a psychedelic insider!
With a free Blossom membership you will always be in the know.
📰 Weekly newsletter about the psychedelic research
✔️ Unlimited access to our database and original articles