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Imagine you’re looking around at a bustling city square, complete with shopkeepers and heavy foot traffic. But swirling jewel tones cover the ground, a muted haze flows through the air, and flowing, bulbous images of dogs and birds are attached to the people passing by. You know you’re neither dreaming nor drunk. It’s entirely possible, thanks to new research, that you’re hooked up to the “Hallucination Machine.”

The Hallucination Machine was built by a team researchers from the Sussex University’s Sackler Center for Conscious Science, including the center’s co-founder, neuroscientist Anil Seth, Ph.D. In a paper published Wednesday in Scientific Reports, Seth and his colleagues explain they created the Hallucination Machine as a means to study the mechanisms underlying altered states of consciousness without needing to use psychedelic drugs. This tool, they claim, is like a drug in its ability to make people feel like they are hallucinating.

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Category: Science