My name is Broc Pagni and I am a clinical cognitive neuroscientist at New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine. I have long been fascinated by psychology, the brain, and consciousness, and chosen to pursue this line of work as a form of creative thought, passion, and humanitarian contribution. My research as a postdoctoral researcher at NYU’s Center for Psychedelic Medicine is focused on understanding how psychedelics (like magic mushrooms and LSD) alter the brain. Through this study, I am identifying what psychological and brain-based changes are responsible for the therapeutic improvements observed across a diverse set of psychiatric conditions – such as alcohol use disorder and existential distress in cancer patients.
Intriguingly, psychedelics produce profound alterations in visual, auditory, somatosensory, and interoceptive perception. Moreover, they often lead to major insights/revelations, emotional breakthroughs, and shifts in values and philosophical beliefs – such phenomena appear to predict long-term improvements in mental health, too!
Unfortunately, many depictions of psychedelic experiences are unrealistic, dizzying, and even terrifying to those unfamiliar with altered states of consciousness; and they largely rely on visual graphics rather than stimuli that induce similar bodily sensations and synesthesia, or the blending of the senses (e.g. seeing a sound). These visual misrepresentations have done a disservice to those who may be hesitant to experience such radical shifts in awareness.
My hope in participating in the Symbiosis initiative is to give the viewer an honest account of the perceptual altering capacity of psychedelics, to provide an accurate scientific account of how effects are exerted via the brain, and finally, to leave on a note of that rings to the many unanswered philosophical questions. These will either remain a mystery forever, or begin to reveal themselves through innovative research from forward thinkers of generations to come – let’s let the perceiver decide!
I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from a talented film maker. Cinematography, or capturing the art of motion, has always been a second passion of mine. I hope to weave my love of nature and adventure sports (rock climbing and mountain biking), as well as the passion of the film maker, into a creation that leaves the viewer simultaneously in awe and inspired.