Designing playlists for people on LSD
Designing playlists for people on LSD is a job that neuroscience PhD student, Mendel Kaelen has to do for the Imperial College’s clinical trials.
Acid or LSD has a consistent reputation of being a trippy party drug from the sixties. LSD has always been linked to the musical experience and is a festival party favourite.
Research has found that the music that you listen while on LSD can affect your trip on a neurological level.
That’s why Kaelen takes the job of putting together the playlists for people on LSD very seriously, as the reactions the subjects have to the music while on LSD affects the study in a significant way. The recorded brain scans verifies this.
The objective behind including music in these trials is due, in most part to the growing interest of using psychedelic drugs in therapy, specifically depression and other mental illnesses.
Ten volunteers were used for the study and were made to listen to five different instrumentals on two separate occasions. During the first session they were given placebos and on the second they were given LSD.
The ‘emotional potency’ of the playlists for people on LSD were based on another study they carried out on a different group.
The music that was used was categorised into the most likable and least familiar. Kaelen explained why this is important when creating the playlists for people on LSD study…
“If music is too familiar, it can reduce the ability to have a new experience, because you already had an experience with that song before in your life.” he shared
Making use of music in psychedelic therapy isn’t an entirely original idea. Music therapists were onto this back in the sixties.
Kaelen however is taking a scientific approach which could give the LSD therapy technique a legitimate grounding.
“If you look at these clinical trials right now, all of them, without any exception, use music as part of the therapy model. If music plays such an important role in the therapeutic method, we need to ask a lot of important scientific questions related to that in order to really move the field forward—to really make sure that we have an empirical understanding of the role of music within therapeutic work. The music is, in essence, always and only there to be in service of the central therapeutic process; that is to support the highly personal eyes-closed journey that is unfolding over the hours.” He said to VICE
If this interests you further you should read the full analysis on motherboard.vice.com