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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 2, 2019

Classic psychedelics: the special role of the visual system

Noemi Császár-Nagy, Gábor Kapócs and István Bókkon


Here, we briefly overview the various aspects of classic serotonergic hallucinogens reported by a number of studies. One of the key hypotheses of our paper is that the visual effects of psychedelics might play a key role in resetting fears. Namely, we especially focus on visual processes because they are among the most prominent features of hallucinogen-induced hallucinations. We hypothesize that our brain has an ancient visual-based (preverbal) intrinsic cognitive process that, during the transient inhibition of top-down convergent and abstract thinking (mediated by the prefrontal cortex) by psychedelics, can neutralize emotional fears of unconscious and conscious life experiences from the past. In these processes, the decreased functional integrity of the self-referencing processes of the default mode network, the modified multisensory integration (linked to bodily self-consciousness and self-awareness), and the modified amygdala activity may also play key roles. Moreover, the emotional reset (elimination of stress-related emotions) by psychedelics may induce psychological changes and overwrite the stress-related neuroepigenetic information of past unconscious and conscious emotional fears.


The authors gratefully thank critical comments from Michael J. Winkelman.

  1. Conflict of interest statement: The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content.


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Received: 2018-09-09
Accepted: 2018-11-05
Published Online: 2019-04-02
Published in Print: 2019-07-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston