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The Psychedelic Scientist Who Sends Brains Back to Childhood

ABOUT A MONTH into the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Gül Dölen, a neuroscientist, noticed that she had come untethered from reality. “Everything felt sort of swooshy,” she says, as if she was in an “altered, mystical state.” She wasn’t constantly obsessing over her lab at Johns Hopkins University. She chilled out. And for the first time in her life, she found she could meditate for a good 45 minutes at a time.

Her senses were unusually sharp too. On long walks under the monochrome slab of Baltimore’s April sky, she felt hyper-attuned to the natural world. She smiled at the turtles poking their heads out of the inky water of Fell’s Point. She reveled in the crickets’ evening chorus on eerily empty streets. When she happened across a fallen bird’s nest with a broken egg inside, she came close to tears as she imagined the “deep, deep pain of the mother bird.”

She felt like she was on drugs. Or on a spiritual excursion, experiencing what an enlightenment-seeking Zen monk might find sitting alone in a cave. One day, she grabbed a pen and started to crank out haikus. One of her favorites nods to the writer Aldous Huxley’s mescaline-induced notion, immortalized in The Doors of Perception, of being one with a chair: READ MORE:

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