Baseline power of theta oscillations predicts mystical-type experiences induced by DMT in a natural setting

This EEG study (n=35) showed that the baseline power of theta oscillations (associated with mind-wandering) negatively correlated with the intensity of mystical-type (MEQ30) experiences after smoking DMT.


“N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a classic psychedelic capable of inducing short-lasting but profound changes in consciousness. As with other psychedelics, the experience induced by DMT strongly depends upon contextual factors, yet the neurobiological determinants of this variability remain unknown. We combined wireless electroencephalography and source imaging to map changes in neural oscillations elicited by inhaled DMT. Furthermore, we found that the power of frontal and temporal theta oscillations was inversely correlated with scales indexing feelings of unity and transcendence, which are an integral part of the phenomenology of mystical-type experiences. Finally, we established the robustness of these results using a machine learning model for regression trained and tested following a cross-validation procedure. Our results are consistent with the observation that the state of mind prior to consuming a psychedelic drug influences the ensuing subjective experience of the user. We also suggest that priming subjects to reduce their theta power before administration of a serotonergic psychedelic could enhance the likelihood of inducing mystical-type experiences, leading to sustained positive effects in well-being and improving the outcome of therapeutic interventions.”

Authors: Enzo Tagliazucchi, Federico Zamberlan, Federico Cavanna, Laura Alethia de la Fuente, Celeste Romero, Yontatan Sanz Perl & Carla Pallavicini

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