Researchers at Sussex University in the U.K. say they can replicate hallucinatory experiences without chemically altering users' consciousness by combining virtual reality (VR) technology and Google's Deep Dream neural network system into a "Hallucination Machine."
Deep Dream is programmed to identify patterns and features within images with an overemphasis on pattern recognition, and the Sussex team used a modified version of the system to process video footage of the university campus.
Volunteers shown the footage while wearing a VR headset noted it resembled psilocybin-induced hallucinations.
Participants also said their experience of a loss of control, self, or temporal sense suggests the system can reproduce certain psychedelic effects.
The team believes the levels at which the Hallucination Machine can be calibrated may match levels of visual processing in the brain.
"Overall, the Hallucination Machine provides a powerful new tool to complement the resurgence of research into altered states of consciousness," the researchers say.
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