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Link Swanson research statement

I study perception, illusion, hallucination, mind-body questions, 'consciousness', and psychedelic drug effects. I do this using techniques from cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, history of science, and machine learning.

Current Research

Visual Surround Suppression Under Psilocybin (VISUP)

Visual Surround Suppression Under Psilocybin (VISUP) is a study investigating the effects of psilocybin in healthy human participants at the University of Minnesota, Department of Psychiatry. The study is registered with and a detailed description is available publicly at

The VISUP study addresses a critical need for more precise characterizations of the acute visual effects of the drug psilocybin by measuring the impact of acute psilocybin intoxication on a perceptual task known as visual surround suppression, compared to an active placebo control. The data collected in the experiments will make important contributions to knowledge of how psilocybin impacts contextual processing in the brain. Moreover, this will inform the neurobiology of visual surround suppression in general, providing the first investigation of links between surround suppression and serotonergic pathways in humans. Furthermore, the impact of psilocybin on surround suppression will complement recent discoveries of differences in surround suppression present in certain clinical populations.

My role in the study includes the following:

  • Pitched the idea to study the visual effects of psilocybin using psychophysics at the Department of Psychiatry
  • Drafted the scientific sections of the FDA proposal
  • Helped to develop the study IRB protocol
  • Designed the psychophysics and EEG experiments
  • Developed the stimuli presentation logic using Python and PsychoPy
  • Developed data analysis code in Python
  • Implemented EEG hardware and software
  • Administering psychophysics and EEG experiments during all participant site visits, including dosing sessions


I use theory to understand phenomena, articulate research rationale, and form hypotheses. My theoretical publications include Unifying Theories of Psychedelic Drug Effects and The Predictive Processing Paradigm Has Roots in Kant.