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Not much is known from an ethnohistorical perspective about the use of psychoactive substances in southern Central America; it is mainly through the archeological record that their presence in the past has been inferred. This article reviews evidence for the use of mind-altering plants and mushrooms in the societies that inhabited the current Costa Rican territory during pre-Columbian times, and explores the cultural significance of this activity. Historical, ethnographic, archeological, and paleobotanical information was examined and integrated with the data obtained from the analysis of 46 artifacts with a presumed linkage to psychoactive drug use that were selected from an exhaustive search in the collections of the Museums of the Central Bank of Costa Rica and the National Museum of Costa Rica. Preliminary results suggest the consumption of tobacco (Nicotiana spp. L.), morning glory (Ipomoea spp. L.), cohoba [Anadenanthera peregrina (L.) Speg.], psychedelic fungi [Amanita muscaria (L.) Lam. and Psilocybe (Fr.) P. Kumm. species], as well as various alcoholic and invigorating beverages was present in ancient times. This use was likely connected to shamanistic healing practices, social–ceremonial events, and the ritual activities of people who held positions of religious and political importance within society.

Open access
Journal of Psychedelic Studies
Abraham Hafiz Rodriguez
Sarah Nath Zallek
Michael Xu
Jean Aldag
Lori Russell-Chapin
Tobias A. Mattei
, and
N. Scott Litofsky



Music has been associated with therapeutic properties for thousands of years across a vast number of diverse regions and cultures. This study expands upon our current understanding of music’s influence on human neurophysiology by investigating the effects of various music genres on cerebral cortex activity using electroencephalography (EEG).


A randomized, controlled study design was used. EEG data were recorded from 23 healthy adults, ages 19–28, while listening to a music sequence consisting of five randomized songs and two controls. The five studied music genres include: Classical, Tribal Downtempo, Psychedelic Trance (Psytrance), Goa Trance, and Subject Choice.


Controls were associated with lower percentages of beta frequencies and higher percentages of alpha frequencies than the music genres. Psytrance was associated with higher percentages of theta and delta frequencies than the other music genres and controls. The lowest percentages of beta frequencies and highest percentages of alpha frequencies occurred in the occipital and parietal regions. The highest percentages of theta and delta frequencies occurred in the frontal and temporal regions. Subjects with prior music training exhibited increased percentages of delta frequencies in the frontal region. Subject gender and music preference did not have a significant influence on frequency band percentages.


Findings from this study support those of previous music therapy studies and provide novel insights regarding music’s influence on human neurophysiology. These findings also support the hypothesis that music may promote changes in cerebral cortex activity that have similarities to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, while the listener remains awake.

Open access