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A Tool to Precisely Quantify Psychedelic Tracers: How Are the Visual Effects of 2C-B, LSD, DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT Different From Each Other?

by Andrés Gómez Emilsson

2 min

We're excited to announce that Andrés Gómez Emilsson from the Qualia Research Institute will give a lecture exclusively for APRA! The topic is:
A Tool to Precisely Quantify Psychedelic Tracers: How are the Visual Effects of 2C-B, LSD, DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT Different From Each Other?

In this talk we will discuss preliminary quantitative and qualitative findings about the nature of “visual tracers” on altered states of consciousness as uncovered by QRI’s Tracer Replication Tool (Wu et al, 2020), which is the first of a battery of experiments specifically designed to capture the unique phenomenal properties of psychedelic experiences (QRI’s Psychophysics Toolkit (Gomez Emilsson, 2020)). “Visual tracers”, or palinopsia, are a family of visual disturbances involving alterations to the duration, quality, recurrence, and flickering of after-images. People often remark that, e.g. on LSD, after-images of bright lights can last a remarkable amount of time in one’s visual field (for instance, staying present for 15 seconds rather than merely 2). Early research suggested that LSD’s tracers have specific qualitative properties such as a characteristic flickering of roughly 15hz (Dubois & VanRullen, 2011). In this work, we tackle the problem of measuring these effects in precise qualitative (e.g. type of tracers) and quantitate (e.g. frequencies of flickering) ways by radically enriching our conception of visual phenomenology. To do so we (a) develop a fine-grained vocabulary for each visual alteration, and (b) create an interactive tool to allow users to replicate the effects in detail, which they can do from memory or during the experience itself. Concretely, we will explain how tracers can be broken down in terms of quantitative properties like flicker frequency, decay functions, and envelope characteristics, as well as drastically different qualitative behaviors such as stroboscopic, replay, pulsing, and color shifts between positive and negative afterimages. We argue that the tool can be conceptualized as a sort of Photoshop of Tracers (not unlike how e.g. the open-source graph visualization tool Gephi has been described as the Photoshop of Graphs) giving the user a wide range of degrees of freedom to characterize palinopsia phenomenology. We will share our most up-to-date understanding of the characteristics of the tracers of each of the drugs for which we have datapoints (THC, DXM, Ketamine, Psilocybin, LSD, 2C-B, DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT). Additionally, we will argue that psychedelic tracers are in fact not only scientifically significant: they might even have unexpected applications, as exemplified by the suggestion that they can be used for secure communication, aka. Psychedelic Cryptography (Gomez Emilsson, 2015). Finally, we will explain how to generalize this paradigm to other core psychedelic effects in order to reverse engineer the inner workings of the mind/brain.
* Dubois, J., & VanRullen, R. (2011). Visual Trails: Do the Doors of Perception Open Periodically? PLoS Biology, 9(5), e1001056.
* Wu, L., Gomez Emilsson, A., Zuckerman, A. (2020). QRI Psychophysics Toolkit, Qualia Research Institute.
* Gomez Emilsson, A. (2020). Modeling Psychedelic Tracers with QRI’s Psychophysics Toolkit: The Tracer Replication Tool. Qualia Computing.
* Gomez Emilsson, A. (2015). How to secretly communicate with people on LSD. Qualia Computing.

When: February 2nd, 2022 at 19:00
Where: Online via Zoom

Stay tuned for more information!

This is a free event for APRA members.
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