Experience the mind-bending effects of “magic mushrooms” in this educational VR science experiment.
There is a controversial discussion happening at the moment around psilocybin, a key compound found in magic mushrooms capable of sending people on mind-altering trips that often result in visual and auitory hallucinations and dramatic emotional changes. Data shows those suffering from chronic depression or anxiety can actually benefit from small microdoses of the psychedelic, with some even reporting long-term relief. Of course, not everyone agrees.
Created by Radix Motion and Red Light Holland Corp, Wisdom is an educational VR experience designed to explain the effects of magic mushrooms by allowing users to step into a 3D model of the human brain to see exactly how psilocybin changes the way your brain operates within the predictive coding neuroscience framework. It sounds complex, but that’s only because it is
To help you better understand the process, Wisdom allows you to physically pick up a psilocybin molecule using your motion controllers and insert it into a 5ht2a neuron receptor to witness the changes as they happen. You are also able to dance, play the xylophone, and create your own experience; making Wisdom both entertaining and educational.
To bring in a little fun into the experience, the creators behind Wisdom enlisted the help of comedian superstar Russel Peters to help explain some of the more sciency stuff. “I learnt a lot by narrating it,” said Peters in a press release, “I hope this is the future of education and I feel grateful to be a part of positive change when it comes to understanding psilocybin while hopefully ending stigmas associated with it.”
Wisdom also lets you experience some of the sensations that might come from taking psychedelics, such as synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway, like hearing, leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway, such as vision.
As psychedelics become more accessible to the public, it’s important that the public understands how they work by having access to the science behind them; this according to Sarah Hashkes, a published psychedelic researcher and CEO of Radix Motion.
The information needed to be fun and engaging, but—more importantly—it had to be based on actual science.
VR influencer Don “VRGamerDude” Hopper, who partnered with Radix Motion and Red Light Holland Corp to help promote Wisdom, told VRScout, “I liked the fact that this app wasn’t being billed as some acid trip simulator, but was more based around the science behind how Psilocybin and other Psychedelics affect the brain,” adding, “I believe there is an application for these and other forms of alternative medicines for those who want or need them and I support anything that will educate potential users especially if it involves a cool and new medium such as virtual reality!”
Red Light Holland Corp is a company focused on production and sales in the Netherlands. For them, mushrooms are a revenue stream. Todd Shapiro, Red Light Holland CEO and Director, sees Wisdom as a piece of science-based marketing that can be used to distribute educational information and promote the responsible use of their iMicrodose packs of “magic” truffles.
It’s not just about the science and sales, however. For some, it’s personal. Victoria Del Castillo, CEO of Extended Voxel Laboratories and the person featured in Wisdom’s promotional video said, “I am going through a journey of overcoming CPTSD and psilocybin has been integral to my healing. I also LOVE mixed reality and filmmaking so I was extremely excited to be able to create this trailer.” Del Castillo continues, “People can expect a journey through the process of how psilocybin works in the brain and gives fun examples of how it makes you feel.”
Wisdom is an interesting, engaging, and fun approach to educating the public on something that was once taboo and banned under the Controlled Substance Act here in the U.S. As states slowly decriminalize the use of psilocybin, educating the public about the potential health benefits behind will surely play a huge role in helping more states open up to the idea of both medical and even recreational use.
“I could tell Wisdom was made by people who understand both VR and psychedelics,” said Del Castillo.
Wisdom launches on March 17th on SteamVR headsets.
Feature Image Credit: Radix Motion Inc., Truffle Co.