Shroom & Magic MushroomPsychedelic Neuroscience & Music

January 5, 2023by Dr.Jake Donaldson0

Psychedelic Neuroscience & Music

Music listening has long been employed as a way to direct or promote therapeutic experiences while under the acute influence of psychedelic substances. This practice dates back to the early days of therapeutic research with psychedelics.

  • Recent research indicates that music may help with meaning-making, emotion, and mental imagery after the administration of psychedelics, and it may also play a significant role in enabling beneficial therapeutic results of psychedelic therapy.

This review examines the background of recent research on, and potential directions for, the use of music in psychedelic research and therapy. It makes the case for a more thorough and rigorous examination of the role that music plays in the treatment of psychiatric disorders within the novel context of psychedelic therapy.

The use of music in psychedelic research and therapy has a long history. Today, we’ll examine that history, as well as current research and potential future directions. We’ll also make the case for a more thorough examination of the role that music plays in the treatment of psychiatric disorders within the novel context of psychedelic therapy.


For the treatment of psychiatric problems like addiction, end-of-life misery, and depression, traditional psychedelic medicines are being researched. When treated with currently available techniques, mood and substance use disorders have a lengthy time course and an unreliable prognosis, although psychedelic therapies hold enormous promise.

  • Recent studies show positive behavioral outcomes, such as clinically relevant reductions in self-report and clinician-rated disorder severity, physiological outcomes, such as breath carbon monoxide and urine cotinine, and, in one case, modulation of potential neurobiological correlates of mood disorders.

One or a few (i.e., 2) sessions of psychedelic therapy are all that are necessary to produce acute and long-lasting symptom improvements, which marks a significant break from the conventional medical model of continuous, daily medicine and/or counseling.

  • The ability of subjective experiences during acute drug effects to anticipate and mediate clinical results is a fundamental tenet of psychedelic therapy. Both research and therapeutic use of psychedelics have consistently included music listening as a way to support or direct experiences during the acute drug effects.

There may be some consistency in the qualities of music that are used to promote psychedelic treatment, even if music delivery during psychedelic therapy is not standardized and methods used to pick music for psychedelic therapy are mainly untested.

  • Recent research suggests that psychedelics may enhance the creation of meaning, feeling, and mental images while listening to music. It also suggests that music may be crucial to the successful clinical outcomes of psychedelic therapy.


It has been demonstrated that listening to music activates a variety of domain-general brain regions, including those involved in processing rewards, emotions, and memories. The brain regions that are at least partially recruited when listening to music are those whose activity and connections are changed after taking psychedelic drugs.

  • Psychedelic substances significantly alter aural perception. This is inferred from the neurobiology of auditory processing as well as the neurobiology of psychedelic medications (serotonin 2A, or 5-HT2A, receptor agonists).
  • The selective neuronal responses to auditory stimuli have been attributed to brainstem serotonergic neurons, and 5-HT2A signaling has been specifically demonstrated to change these responses starting in the cochlear nucleus and progressing through the pre-cortical primary auditory sensory pathway to the primary auditory cortex and auditory cortical neurons.

In the 1950s and 1960s, a massive wave of psychedelic and neurology research was sparked by the synthesis of LSD. The therapeutic potential of psychedelics has been extensively studied, and music has long been recognized as an element that can dramatically amplify and affect drug experiences. Soon, it was understood that music was a crucial component of the environment that supported the healing process.

  • The importance of using music as a therapeutic tool was emphasized. Due to music’s “deep” influence, much care and responsibility must be used while choosing the music that best suits a patient’s unique therapeutic requirements.

Studies reported profound alterations in a patient�s perception of and response to music and suggested this underlies the usefulness of music as an adjunct to psychedelic therapy. For example, very often, sounds which normally have no aesthetic appeal, were heard in a most unusual manner.

It has been customarily framed and described as the use of music to support particular emotional experiences, such as peak or mystical experiences or emotional catharsis, during psychedelic therapy.

Promoting Healing Through Psychedelics and Music

The ability of music to evoke strong emotions is a major reason why many people listen to it. This is also a major reason why music therapy is often used to treat a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions. Music can have strong, “chill-inducing,” emotional effects that are frequently seen. However, there are numerous and varied ways that music can modify emotional experience.

It has been demonstrated that various kinds of determinants, including acoustic and musical characteristics of specific stimuli, personal associations people have with music, and more abstract ideas like preference qualities and personality, can affect the feelings felt while listening to music.

  • It has been demonstrated that “liking,” in particular (a person’s affinity for a particular piece of music), has a major impact on the emotions evoked by music. It is possible that liking modifies the impact of musical elements and familiarity on music-induced emotions.

This is in line with earlier theoretical viewpoints that suggested that liking may serve as a measure of the emotional usefulness of a musical stimulus, acting as a “gatekeeper” or filter for the music’s subsequent impacts on the listener’s emotional state.

However, the effects of psychedelics are conceived as a surrender of the typical filters the “self” uses to control its internal environment. Thus, psychedelics may lessen the typical mechanisms that control how music evokes emotion and enable a wider processing of music and its emotional-evoking elements. Both neuroimaging and psychopharmacological studies provide evidence in favor of this notion.

  • It has been demonstrated that psychedelics modify not only how the acoustic qualities of music are processed, but also how the brain and emotions respond to it. The 1950s and 1960s saw a significant increase in the use of music in psychedelic therapy, and patients who underwent this treatment most frequently indicated that it intensified their feelings and mental images.


In terms of drug administration and underlying theoretical frameworks, the ability of psychedelic therapy to induce acute and lasting therapeutic changes marks a promising direction in mental healthcare and a major departure from conventional treatments.

  • Previous studies have shown that using psychedelics can increase one’s emotional and psychological receptivity to music. Patients frequently underline the major impact of music on their experience in psychedelic treatment, even if there is evidence for the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelic substances without music listening.

These results add to the growing body of research showing that music can be a powerful medium for regulating emotion and meaning making and for facilitating experiences with significant therapeutic value. Since the quality of the music experience and, more especially, a music experience marked by personal “resonance” have been linked to therapeutic effects, the music selection necessitates careful customization to the particular patient.


The interaction between psychedelics and music-listening results in significant changes in emotion, mental imagery, and personal significance. Research is starting to reveal fundamental brain processes and supports the idea that music plays a crucial part in psychedelic therapy. Music appears to have a substantial impact on the effectiveness of treatment through mood modulation, the facilitation of mystical experiences, and the support of autobiographical processes.

The key to enhancing our understanding of psychedelic therapies and the success of psychedelic therapies is acknowledging the role of music and the importance of rigorous future empirical investigations in this young field of inquiry.


Dr.Jake Donaldson

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