Designed by researchers, this machine causes hallucinations… and this, without any drugs

Robin Lamorlette

June 06, 2023 at 11:10 a.m.


Dreammachine © Liam McBurney

© Liam McBurney

A group of researchers from the University of Sussex have invented a device called Dreamachine to study certain aspects of the human brain.

More specifically, it is a large space in which 30 people can lie down, close their eyes and, during a 30-minute session, experience hallucinations caused by different stimuli, for therapeutic purposes.

A dance for the senses

Since last summer, tens of thousands of people in the UK have been able to experience Dreamachine-induced hallucinations. This device developed by neuroscientists at the University of Sussex intends to study the effect of such experiences on the human brain.

To achieve this result, this large space immerses its users in a trance using strobe lights and electronic music for about thirty minutes. At the end of this session, the participants described an experience that was sometimes powerful, magical, vivid or kaleidoscopic.

Cyberpunk 2077 Braindance © CD Projekt RED

© CD Projekt RED

Seeing the reaction of the participants when they come out of the Dreamachine and hearing them describe their experience was so rare and magical “said Anil Seth, one of the … masterminds behind the project. The term “hallucinations” should also be tempered, as most caused by the machine are peaceful, with a team present to monitor the participants.

Hallucinations for therapeutic purposes?

Besides inducing hallucinations through technology, the Dreamachine would serve various research purposes. One of them is to better understand the effect of strobe lights on the brain, a subject that has been very little studied until now.

With the help of as many participants as possible, the researchers intend to combine the Dreamachine experiment with a new project called “Perception Census”. This aims to measure how different the hallucinations caused are between people. Ultimately, the results of research conducted around this device could help develop new forms of mental therapy.

Although the project dates back to last summer, it is still in its infancy, as the team needs more data to arrive at concrete results. According to the experience of the participants, they seem to have come out of a session of hallucinations in the Dreamachine in a better mood than before. These are necessarily devoid of the side effects caused by various substances.

Source : Dreammachine on YouTube

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