Ayahuasca enhances creative divergent thinking while decreasing conventional convergent thinking
The present study aimed to assess the potential effects of ayahuasca on creative thinking. To that end, we visited two spiritual ayahuasca workshops and invited participants to conduct creativity tests before and during the acute effects of ayahuasca. In total 26 participants consented. Creativity tests included the ‘Pattern/Line Meanings Test’ (PLMT) and the ‘Picture Concept Test’ (PCT); both assessing divergent thinking and the latter also assessing convergent thinking. While no significant effects were found for the PLMT, ayahuasca intake significantly modified divergent and convergent thinking as measured by the PCT. While convergent thinking decreased after intake, divergent thinking increased. The present data indicate that ayahuasca enhances creative divergent thinking. They suggest that ayahuasca increases psychological flexibility, which may facilitate psychotherapeutic interventions and support clinical trial initiatives.
Kim Kuypers has been studying the effects of MDMA on cognition for over 13 years now. The research grant she obtained in 2011 helped her to set up her own research line in which she chose to shift her focus from negative drug effects to positive effects of drugs and underlying neurobiology.