The claustrum meaning “hidden or shut away" is a unique and often an undiscussed region of the brain. It consists of a thin sheet of neuronal cells hidden deep within the cortex. Despite its location, the claustrum can reach out to every other region of our brain. There have long been research studies addressing the true functions of the claustrum. Some believe it deals with awareness, consciousness, and a sense of self.
However, what is certain about that region is its association with a large number of receptors that respond to psychedelic drugs. Such notation prompted researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine to take a closer look at what exactly happens to the claustrum when a person is on psychedelics.
To address their curiosity, researchers examined the brain scans of participants on a popular psychedelic, psilocybin, versus the brains scans of participants on a placebo.
"Our findings move us one step closer to understanding mechanisms underlying how psilocybin works in the brain," says Frederick Barrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the school's Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. "This will hopefully enable us to better understand why it's an effective therapy for certain psychiatric disorders, which might help us tailor therapies to help people more."
Results were published in the journal NeuroImage and further supports the notion that claustrum is involved with self-awareness.