A Drug-Free Brain Trip? Scientists Now Have a Machine for That

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The device - dubbed the Hallucination Machine - employs Google AI and a virtual reality headset.

Researchers at Sussex University's Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science in the UK have designed a device that offers what they say amounts to the experience of tripping out, only without the previously necessary hallucinogenic drugs.

This new device - dubbed the Hallucination Machine - isn't just for fun. According to Science Alert, the scientists are working to further our understanding of the human experience:

This mind-bending immersive experience, several years in the making, has been put together to try and help experts understand exactly how the brain processes what we're perceiving, and how that might differ between reality and hallucinations.

Studying hallucination is useful, but using hallucinogenic drugs like LSD or mushrooms muddy the data due to the chemical alterations they cause.

Enter Google's Deep Dream system, which uses a neural network approach to try and identify patterns and features in images. You can actually try it out for yourself online.

How does it work?

Simply put, Deep Dream over-emphasises pattern recognition, or puts the way our brain interprets the world into overdrive, so much so that it starts to imagine stuff that isn't actually there.