If you recently watched HBO’s TV series “The Last of Us”, you’re probably a tad more wary of fungi than you used to be. Based on the popularity of the show, it’s clear that more than just a few of us find the prospect of a brain-altering fungus terrifying.

But while there’s currently no fungus (at least that we’re aware of) that has the ability to take control of the human brain and turn us into zombies, some fungi do produce a molecule that can alter our minds. Called psilocybin, this small molecule is present in magic mushrooms — and is the reason why consuming them gives us hallucinations.

Recently, there’s been an explosion of interest in psilocybin because of its brain-altering capabilities. Many researchers feel that psilocybin may be a powerful tool in mental health treatment — with some studies even suggesting it may be useful in treating a range of conditions, from anxiety to alcohol addiction.

What would your life look like if it was made into a Wes Anderson film? TikTok users are finding out by shooting their own mundane videos in the style of the distinctive director – which has proven ripe for social media parody. Plus, we dig into Fifa’s threat to pull the Women’s World Cup from European TV.

Another brain-altering substance we work with is high-quality, trustworthy information from experts, which we gladly share, for free, with millions of readers. Around 5% of subscribers to this newsletter donate – raising that figure would make a huge difference. If you value what you read here at The Conversation, please become a donor today.

Heather Kroeker

Commissioning Editor, Health + Medicine

Fungal metabolites, such as psilocybin, may have therapeutic potential. Kyrylo Vasyliev/ Shutterstock

Brain-altering fungi could lead the next frontier in mental health care

Edel Hyland, Queen's University Belfast

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is one example of a fungus which can alter the human mind.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

TikTok’s Wes Anderson trend: why the quirky director’s style is ripe for social media parody

Tom Hemingway, University of Warwick

An Anderson shot is distinct, from its colour palette to its framing, which is why his style is easy to mimic.

USA, winners in 2019. Jose Breton- Pics Action/Shutterstock

Women’s World Cup: Fifa’s threat to ban European broadcasters is not a skilful move

Christina Philippou, University of Portsmouth; Adam Cox, University of Portsmouth

Growing interest in women’s football must be encouraged.

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