Magic mushrooms: Why cancer patients are suing the DEA

Plus: the diet your memory needs now.

Kiwi trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has made history competing in an individual event at the Tokyo Olympics. That was Monday. This is Tuesday. Welcome to the rest of your week.

I’m Claire Cameron, managing editor of Inverse. Our top story today details what may be a landmark challenge to the legal barriers around access for psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. Two cancer patients, together with a physician and their lawyers, are suing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to try to get permission to try the psychedelic substance found in magic mushrooms.

Let’s be clear, these people don’t want to trip. Instead, they want something much more profound: a sense of peace.

To read the full story, keep scrolling, and for more stories on how the brain thinks about music and a diet that may lead to better memory — as well as a bonus science-inspired music masterpiece to see you through the day.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, August 3, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-de-doo.

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Neuroscience of imagination: How the brain thinks about music even in silence — A pair of studies published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience finally illuminate the auditory-imagination process. Inverse reporter Katie MacBride has more:

“Amazing Grace.” ​​Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major.” “Baby Shark.” The songs have one thing in common: They’re all instantly recognizable.

They are so recognizable that you can likely “hear” when you think about them — even when you’re sitting in silence. But what’s happening in your brain when you imagine them? What about the moments of silence between notes of music? What’s happening in your brain then?

The new findings point to a better understanding of the neural processes involved in “the music of silence” and give a more precise picture of the neuroscience of imagination. Ultimately, music is more than a sensory experience. Our brain attempts to predict notes even when no music is playing.

Co-author Giovanni Di Liberto, a researcher and assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, tells Inverse this study also serves as “a new method to study imagination.”

“The brain tries to predict upcoming music events,” Di Liberto says. “That same predictive process is, in my opinion, related to what we experience as imagination.”

Read the full story.

Related stories:

More oranges, please.

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This colorful diet is linked to better brain health and memory — In a new study, Sophie Putka reports people who ate the most flavonoids were almost 20 percent less likely to have higher scores on cognitive decline surveys.

In the study, people who ate the most flavonoids (over 600 milligrams per day) were almost 20 percent less likely to have higher scores on cognitive decline surveys compared to peers who ate the least flavonoids. Flavonoids are found in foods like oranges, pears, and celery.

Lead study author Tian-Shin Yeh is a post-doctoral research fellow in epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. Her team was “somewhat surprised at the strength of the association” between flavonoids and protection against cognitive decline “even with diet several decades before the assessment of cognitive function,” Yeh tells Inverse.

Key takeaway: “People in our study who did the best over time ate an average of at least half a serving per day of flavonoid-rich foods,” Yeh says.

Read the full story.

Related stories:

Magic mushrooms may offer relief from depression and anxiety — if only patients could access them.


For the terminally ill, mushroom legality may come too late — Psilocybin liberates the mind from constant thoughts of death that often consume the terminally ill. But its usage is being blocked, despite the Right to Try Law. A doctor and two cancer patients are suing the DEA.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in so-called “magic mushrooms” that are currently illegal under federal law. But a growing number of studies suggest it is an effective treatment for reducing the anxiety and depression often experienced by people with cancer — people like Erinn Baldeschwiler, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

This is the first suit of its kind brought under the auspices of the Right to Try Law, which was enacted by the Trump administration. It is a direct challenge to the Controlled Substances Act, which was the crowning piece of legislation to come from the War on Drugs, waged by the Nixon administration in the 1970s and for decades since.

Key quote: “Removing legal obstacles for end-of-life care is the moral choice.”

Read our feature.

Related stories:

Even if you are vaccinated, the CDC advises you to wear a mask in certain situations.

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Look: 5 visuals that show why masks stop Covid-19 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its recommendations on masking for vaccinated individuals in some circumstances. To understand why, it helps to know how masks work to slow the spread of Covid-19. Inverse card story creator Jennifer Walter has gathered five incredible visual demonstrations that show the science at work.

One essential piece of advice from our reporting: avoid masks with the valve on the side. They might help with airflow, but they may also let more virus particles in and out than regular masks.

See it for yourself.

Related stories:

Great goose shot, tbh.

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