Effects of ayahuasca on binocular rivalry with dichoptic stimulus alternation
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During binocular rivalry, two incompatible images are presented to each eye and these monocular stimuli compete for perceptual dominance, with one pattern temporarily suppressed from awareness. One variant of stimulus presentation in binocular rivalry experiments is dichoptic stimulus alternation (DSA), when stimuli are applied to the eyes in rapid reversals. There is preliminary report that in contrast with healthy controls, schizophrenic patients can maintain binocular rivalry even at very high DSA rates.
The study was undertaken to investigate whether binocular rivalry survives high rates of DSA induced by the South American hallucinogenic beverage ayahuasca.
Ten individuals who were participating in ayahuasca ceremonials were requested to volunteer for binocular rivalry tests (DSA=0, 3.75, 7.5, 15 and 30 Hz) without and after drinking the brew.
Ingestion of ayahuasca increased mean dominance periods both in standard binocular rivalry conditions (no DSA) and tests with DSA. At higher DSA rates (15 and 30 Hz) the total length of dominance periods was longer on the brew.
It is discussed that ayahuasca-induced survival of binocular rivalry at high DSA rates may be related to slow visual processing and increased mean dominance periods may result from hallucinogen-induced alteration of gamma oscillations in the visual pathways.
KeywordsAyahuasca Binocular rivalry DMT Hallucinogens Human Visual perception
The authors thank Eva Wiesenmayer, Richard Bonenfant and Sherman Wissinger for their help in preparation of the manuscript.
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