Toward a Science of Consciousness  2008PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS /SYMPOSIUMS




                                     Tucson Convention Center and Hotel Arizona

                                                                  Rooms to be announced

                                            Fees are $50 per Workshop/Symposium


                         SESSION 1,  Monday  April 7, (9:00 am to 1:00 pm)  



   Consciousness and Self-Consciousness in Eastern and Western Philosophy


       Paula Droege, Keya Maitra

This workshop will introduce participants to some of the main positions on consciousness and self-consciousness from the perspective of comparative philosophy. Some themes we will consider are: what is consciousness? what is self-consciousness? does consciousness depend on self-consciousness? During this workshop we will discuss and reflect upon a number of Hindu, Buddhist and contemporary Western answers to these questions and their relative merits. What would be of special interest is to see how these various answers compare ? sometimes converging  sometimes diverging ? ultimately giving us an opportunity to reflect upon the function(s) that the concepts of consciousness and self-consciousness play in these systems. Some of the main positions that will be considered include Nyaya, Tibetan Buddhist, Yogacara Buddhist, Mimamsa and Vedanta in the Asian context and that of Rosenthal, Kriegel, Carruthers, Shoemaker and Dretske in the Western context. No previous study in Asian or Western philosophy is required, although some technical arguments will be introduced. This interactive workshop will provide short readings on the major philosophical positions that the participants will be invited to read and engage in a discussion.


Keya Maitra is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She is the author of a number of philosophical articles, most recently Comparing the Bhagavad-Gita and Kant: A Lesson in Comparative Philosophy. Her new translation of the Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita is in press with Pearson/Longman.  In Western philosophy, her book On Putnam (2002) is part of the Wadsworth Philosophers Series. Her research interests include Indian Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, and Comparative Philosophy of Mind. She is presently working on a manuscript that compares and contrasts the topic of self-knowledge from classical Indian and contemporary Western perspectives.

 Paula Droege is a lecturer in Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University.  Her book Caging the Beast: A Theory of Sensory Consciousness (John Benjamins, 2003) offers a representationalist alternative to higher-order theories of consciousness. The theory argues that the representation of presence is the distinguishing feature of conscious states.  Her research interests include Philosophy of Mind, Neuroscience and Feminist Theory.  She is presently working on the evolution of temporal representation and the role of
consciousness in memory.




  What’s Globalist About Globalist Theories of Consciousness? Getting It Straight

         Bernard J. Baars, Ph.D., Katharine A. McGovern, Ph.D.

The Global Workspace Theory (GWT) of conscious experience is widely cited but little understood. One common  question  concerns   the "global access" that is enabled by a GW architecture. Ned Block has suggested there may be   "access  consciousness" without experiential consciousness, but the evidence for that view is debatable at best. GWT suggests  multiple kinds of global   (or widespread) access in the brain, including access by the "self as observer" to the   "objects of experience."  This may indeed be as close to a deep conceptual definition of consciousness as we have today.    But  a GW architecture inherently provides multiple kinds of access - it is a "hub of hubs" among numerous specialized AND global brain capacities. GWT also provides   a functional case for the  well-known limited-capacity features of consciousness, which are the opposite of "global," in that we can only experience one coherent conscious event at any moment. The functionality of GW architectures has been shown in a number of computational applications. We review the latest cognitive and brain evidence on global access in both ordinary and disordered states  of consciousnesss, specify the varieties of access a GW architecture may provide, and give some plausible brain hypotheses for a   GW function. Finally, we compare and contrast GWT with other globalist theories such as Neural Darwinism.

Dr. Bernard J. Baars is former Senior Fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego (currently Affiliated Fellow).  He also teaches Consciousness: The WebCourse for the Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona. Baars is interested in human language, human and animal consciousness, volition, and the brain basis of conscious and unconscious processes.  His books include A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness (1988, Cambridge), In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace  of the Mind (Oxford, 1997), and recently, Cognition, Brain  and Consciousness: An Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (2007,  with Nicole Gage, Elsevier/Academic Press). Baars has developed a theory of consciousness called Global Workspace Theory,  which is widely cited in philosophical and scientific sources. Baars co-founded the journal Consciousness & Cognition from  Academic Press/ Elsevier. He was founding President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.

Dr. Katharine A. McGovern
is  Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Her doctorate is in Experimental Cognitive Psychology from the  Center for Research in Human Learning at the University of Minnesota. Her interests are in the psychology of consciousness, intersubjectivity, mother-child attachment, emotion, and spiritual development. Her scholarly publications and presentations include work on the scientific study of consciousness including Global Workspace Theory, the relationship of consciousness, feelings and emotion, cognitive neuroscience, as well as Christian Mysticism and the Western contemplative tradition.



   Use of Mathematical Physics to Model Neural Correlates of Brain Activity in Perception

     and Consciousness - Part I    (Part 2 included in registration for Part 1)

      Walter Freeman, Robert Kozma, Giuseppe Vitiello, Tian Yu Cao


Brains are organized hierarchically in respect to neural architecture and function. Locally, hundreds of neurons are synaptically interactive in a variety of microscopic networks. Distributions of short and long axons link the neural networks into mesoscopic populations of millions of neurons, which have collective properties that are not apparent at the microscopic level of synaptic and action potentials. Instead they are observed in averages provided by electric fields (ECoG) recorded from high-density arrays of intracranial electrodes on cortical surfaces. The mesoscopic populations are linked by yet longer axons into macroscopic neural masses in neocortex that form oscillatory patterns that may often span the entire length and breadth of each cerebral hemisphere. The high density (10^5 neurons and 10^9 synapses/ mm^3 in humans, ~13.7 billion neurons with ~137 trillion synapses) enables us to invoke a continuum above mm distances and ms durations. Field activities are observed by brain imaging from sensor arrays for EEG, MEG and fMRI.

Neural correlates of cognition and consciousness are found at all three levels in the hierarchy. The opportunity now opens for us to model the relationships between the spatiotemporal properties of microscopic trains of action potentials observed with microelectrodes and the collective properties of neural populations and masses observed with brain imaging, using the conceptual tools of condensed matter physics and random graph theory. The experimental data for our approach are provided by our measurements of the neural fields of activity that unify the three levels. Our precedent is a paradigm shift that occurred in 19th century physics, when attempts to solve the mysteries of electricity and magnetism in terms of Newtonian point processes were complemented with the continuous fields of Faraday and Maxwell. Contemporary solutions to the mysteries of consciousness and intention can now be sought not only by modeling the properties of neurons in discrete networks, at which level energy is modeled as action-at-a-distance by energy existing in pulses only at trigger zones and synapses with transmission at zero lag. In field studies the neuropil is treated as a continuum in space-time well above the limits of the synapse and the action potential. Given the billions of synapses in each cubic mm, and the millions of action potentials in each second, at scales of cortical columns and the EEG energy is released and utilized at every point in space and time as energy density in the continuum of the neuropil. Transmission is invariably with delays, and the wave functions computed by use of the Hilbert transform enable us to estimate both overt and latent energy levels, which are crucial for understanding the phase transitions that enact perception. 

The tools for interrelating the microscopic distributions of activity with the collective properties of neural masses are provided by condensed matter physics, nonequilibrium thermodynamics, dissipative quantum field theory, random graph theory, and nonlinear dynamics, which support understanding the salient properties of distributed systems: self-organized criticality, scale-free parameters, coherence, self-similarity, correlation length, renormalization group transformations, Hamiltonians in piece-wise linear analysis to identify point and limit cycle attractors, static and dynamic nonlinearities, spontaneous symmetry breaking and phase transitions that yield spatiotemporal patterns constituting inequivalent ground states that embody the contents of perception and consciousness.


Walter J. Freeman, is a fourth generation doctor in his family. He studied physics and mathematics at M.I.T., electronics in the Navy in World War II, philosophy at the University of Chicago, medicine at Yale University, internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, and neuropsychiatry at UCLA.  He has taught brain science in the University of California at Berkeley since 1959, where he is Professor of the Graduate School.  He received his M.D. cum laude in 1954, the Bennett Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry in 1964, a Guggenheim in 1965, the MERIT Award from NIMH in 1990, and the Pioneer Award from the Neural Networks Council of the IEEE in 1992.  He was President of the International Neural Network Society in 1994, and is Life Fellow of the IEEE.  He has authored over 400 articles and 4 books:  Mass Action in the Nervous System 1975,  Societies of Brains 1995,   Neurodynamics 2000, and How Brains Make Up Their Minds, 2001.

Robert Kozma, is Professor and Director of Computational Neurodynamics Laboratory, at The University of Memphis, TN. He received MSc in Mathematics (Budapest, Hungary), following Engineering physics degree (Moscow, Russia), and holds a PhD in Applied Physics (Delft, The Netherlands). He has been AssociateProfessor at the Department of Quantum Science & Engineering, Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) and Lecturer of Information Sciences, Otago University (Dunedin, New Zealand). He has been with the University of California at Berkeley, where he had a joint appointment with the Division of Neurobiology and the EECS Department, prior to joining The University of Memphis in 2000. Dr. Kozma has 25+ years of research experience including spatio-temporal dynamics of neural processes, random graph approaches to large-scale networks, such as neural nets and neuropercolation, computational intelligence methods for knowledge acquisition and autonomous decision making in biological and artificial systems. He has held visiting positions at UC Berkeley, LBNL, NASA/JPL, Sarnoff Co., Princeton, NJ, AFRL Hanscom AFB, MA. He has published 4 books, and over 150 articles. His recent book "Neurodynamics of Cognition and  Consciousness," co-edited by       L. Perlovsky, (Springer Verlag, Fall 2007).

Giuseppe Vitiello is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Salerno, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN). His research activity is focused on elementary particle physics and the physics of living matter and brain. He is author of about 120 research papers, many reports to International Conferences and of the books: Quantum Mechanics, co-authored with H. Umezawa (Bibliopolis, Napoli 1985 and, in Japanese, Nippon Hyoron Sha. Co.Ltd., Tokyo, Japan 2005),  My Double Unveiled  (John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam 2001). Together with Gordon Globus and Karl Pribram, he is editor of the book Brain and Being.  At the Boundary Between Science, Philosophy, Language and Arts. (John Benjamins., Amsterdam, 2004).

Tian Yu Cao, before coming to Boston University in the fall of 1994, was a Research Fellow of Trinity College (1985-90), Cambridge. He also did research in the philosophy of science at Northwestern University, in the history of science at Harvard University, and at the Dibner Institute of the History of Science and Technology at MIT. He was a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford (Fall 2000), and a Visiting Scholar of Wolfson College, Oxford (Spring, 2001); Tian was offered a joint membership in the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Historical Studies, and awarded the Neugebauer Fellowship, by the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) for the academic year 2004/05.




   New Directions in Brain Research:  Everything You Need to Know About the Social Brain

     and its Implications for Consciousness


       David Craik, Charles Whitehead


In recent decades there have been enormous advances in our understanding of the relationships between mind, brain, and behaviour. Most remarkable of all has been the enthusiasm with which neuroscientists have embarked on the search for the neural correlates of consciousness. However, a striking feature of the dominant approaches in the cognitive sciences – and in consciousness studies – has been the treatment of people as fundamentally isolated units. In everyday life, in contrast, we spend most of our time thinking about and interacting with other people rather than doing ‘cognitive tasks’ devised by laboratory researchers.


The concept of the social brain goes back at least eighteen years, to the work of Leslie Brothers (1990). Since then there has been a dramatic emergence and growth of new fields of research resulting from cross-fertilization between the social and neural sciences – social cognitive neuroscience; neural hermeneutics, cultural neuroscience, and anthropological neuroscience. All these new disciplines use functional brain imaging techniques but their theoretical approaches are often very different – reflecting the varied influences of biology, genetics, ethology, primatology, social and developmental psychology, and even physiology – as well as social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and palaeoanthropology,


The workshop will use a mix of talks, games, discussions, video, and experiential exercises designed to present new insights into the basic ways that we all interact with each other. Topics covered by the workshop will include:


  • Our several modes of communication, play, and performance
  • Principles of mind-reading, social interaction, and shared representations of the world
  • Mirror neurons and social mirror theory
  • Major milestones in the development of social approaches in philosophy, physics, cosmology, and the behavioural sciences
  • What each of the major scientific disciplines has to contribute to solving the ‘hard problem’
  • Cross-cultural variations in ‘common sense’ and collective deceptions; how western individualism, the protestant work ethic,   the industrial revolution, and other political sources of bias have delayed the acceptance and development of social approaches
  • Recent behavioural and brain imaging research in key areas of understanding
  • The implications for the evolution of self-consciousness and the brain
  • The implications for consciousness studies

David Craik, following a long career as a professional actor and theatre director, gained his MA in anthropology of Art at University College London. He is a founder director of the International School of Screen Acting, London, and runs his own experimental theatre company, Quest. His research interests focus on the performing and visual arts as forms of social display, and their significance for the evolution of the social brain. He has conducted anthropological brain mapping research in collaboration with Charles Whitehead,  Robert Turner, and Chris Frith at the Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience, University College London.

Charles Whitehead,  is interested in integrating cognitive neuroscience with social anthropology. Following twenty years as Creative Director of an advertising agency, he gained his MSc in Social Anthropology at University College London, followed by a PhD in anthropology and neuroscience in 2003. He has published a number of papers, chapters, and articles on neuroscience, anthropology, and consciousness, and has presented regularly at international conferences on consciousness and related topics. He is a visiting lecturer at Westminster University and has conducted research on role-play and pretend play at the Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience.



   Quantum Mechanisms in Neurons and Brain


       Stuart Hameroff, Gustav Bernroider, Daniel Sheehan


Quantum states in neuronal biomolecular structures are proposed to mediate quantum processes related to consciousness. Biological quantum computation, entanglement and coherence, e.g. in neuronal membranes and microtubules, offer significant understanding of brain function and consciousness unavailable through classical physics. For example only quantum physics can account for causal effects of an observing agent on a classical system. But the brain seems inhospitable to seemingly delicate quantum states. Several recent developments make quantum consciousness a far better bet than it may have seemed.

1) mesoscopic quantum coherent states have been observed in biomolecular structures at significant temperatures,

2) in real cortical neurons, spikes rise too fast to be accounted for by sequential ion channel openings predicted by classical Hodgkin-Huxley dynamics; quantum correlations among sodium channels and/or ions may be required,

3) classical approaches cannot explain gamma synchrony EEG, the best measurable correlate of consciousness which also appears to require non-local quantum correlations,

4) Wheeler's delayed choice thought experiment was recently verified; events can be altered by conscious choices made in the future. With Libet's backward time, quantum non-locality may rescue real-time consciousness and free will from epiphenomenal illusions,

5) life may have started as quantum coherent systems.

Stuart Hameroff, M.D., is a clinical anesthesiologist, Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, and Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Beginning in the early 1970s, Hameroff has studied biomolecular mechanisms underlying consciousness, actions of anesthetic gases and information processing in cytoskeletal microtubules inside living cells. In 1994 Hameroff teamed with British physicist Sir Roger Penrose in the controversial Orch OR theory of consciousness, based on quantum computations in microtubules inside neurons.

Gustav Bernroider is Associate Professor for Neurobiology, University of Salzburg, Austria.  He is leading a research unit for Neurosignaling and Neurodynamics studies that focuses on neural correlates of higher level brain functions. Together with others, Bernroider has suggested that brain research requires an interactionistic view combining the brains physical states with the  phenomenology of mind. He endorses the hypothesis that the mind-brain interface is physically instantiated at the quantum scale and has published his concepts in a series of papers since the mid 90s. Together with Stuart Hameroff, Gustav Bernroider has been also enaged in the international community on this subject and has recently organized the 3rd International Conference on ‘Quantum Mind 2007’ in Salzburg, Austria. 

Daniel Sheehan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Physics at University of San Diego.  He earned his B.S. in chemistry (1981) from Santa Clara University and his Ph.D. in physics (1987) from UC Irvine.  His research interests include experimental plasma physics, planetary formation, the foundations of thermodynamics and, most recently, the physics of time.  He has co-authored and edited several books and conference proceedings including "Quantum Limits to the Second Law," "Challenges to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Theory and Experiment," and "Frontiers of Time: Retrocausation -- Experiment and Theory."  He is a member of the American Physical Society, Sigma Xi, and Phi Beta Kappa.





                             SESSION 2, Monday April 7,  (2:00 pm to 6:00 pm)       



        Philosophical Theories of Consciousness


         Uriah Kriegel


Philosophical theories of consciousness are concerned not just with how consciousness works, but also with what consciousness is. In this workshop, we shall survey six leading theories of consciousness to be found in the current philosophical literature: the New Mysterianism, Naturalistic Dualism, the Representational Theory of Consciousness, Higher-Order Thought theory, Higher-Order Perception Theory, and the Self-Representational theory. With each theory, we shall first consider the theory’s main tenets, then the main arguments in its favor and the main arguments against it.

Uriah Kriegel is assistant professor of philosophy and associate director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. He has published widely on philosophical theories of consciousness.





  Fundamentals of Conscious Vision

     Susana Martinez-Conde,  Stephen Macknik


This tutorial will review the functional anatomical bases of visual experience in brain visual areas beyond the retina: the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in the visual thalamus, the primary visual cortex (area V1, also called striate cortex), and extrastriate visual cortical areas of the dorsal and ventral pathways.


We will review the basic anatomical and laminar organization of the LGN, as well as its retinotopic organization and receptive field structure. We will describe the anatomical and functional differences among the magnocellular, parvocelullar and koniocellular pathways, and their perceptual correlates. 


We will review the functional maps of area V1 (also called the primary visual cortex or striate cortex), including retinotopic maps, ocular dominance maps, and orientation selectivity maps, and their anatomical relationship to each other. Special attention will be given to the modular columnar organization of area V1, and to the various receptive field classes in V1 neurons.


We will review extrastriate cortical visual areas and will describe the "where" and "what" pathways in the dorsal and ventral visual streams. We will also touch upon issues of multisensory integration and the potential role of feedback from higher to lower visual areas.


At all of these levels, we will provide examples of visual and cognitive illusions that are explained by the underlying functional anatomy.


We will also discuss the effects of eye movements on visual physiology and perception in visual areas. Our visual and oculomotor systems must achieve a very delicate balance: insufficient eye movements lead to adaptation and visual fading, whereas excessive motion of the eyes produces blurring and unstable vision (oscillopsia). These issues are very important as they have a significant impact on visual awareness (or lack thereof). 


Finally, another critical issue for consciousness concerns the neural code for visual perception: How can the electrical activity of a neuron, or a neuronal population, encode and transmit visual information? Here we will discuss the ways in which the signal may be discerned from noise in a train of neuronal impulses, as well as the type(s) of neural code that visual neurons may use to communicate information to each other.


Susana Martinez-Conde,  Ph.D., is the director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at the Barrow Neurological Institute. She was trained by the Nobel laureate, David Hubel, at Harvard Medical School, and she has made several contributions to the field of visual neuroscience. She has had recent success in her lab studies of eye movements and visual awareness, which were featured on the cover of Scientific American (August 2007) and several other nation's top publications. She also serves as a Board Member of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), and is the Executive Chair of the Neural Correlate Society  (NCS), which hosts the Annual Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest.

Stephen L. Macknik, Ph.D., is the director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute. His research interests are to explain the neural underpinnings of visual and olfactory perception and awareness in the brain. His primary interest in sensory processing is to understand how networks of neuronal cells in the brain form circuits that allow us to feel aware of our surroundings. Dr. Macknik’s research also addresses the role of microscopic vascular blood flow in various neurological diseases. His newest project builds on these interests by determining the brain correlates of the perception of flicker fusion (the feeling that the TVs, computers and house lights do not flicker, even though they really do) in the visual system. Dr. Macknik promotes public awareness of his and other scientific discoveries by working with several organizations that bring together scientists and the public.




   Use of Mathematical Physics to Model Neural Correlates of Brain Activity in Perception

      and  Consciousness -  Part 2   (included in registration for Part I )  

     Walter Freeman, Giuseppe Vitiello, Tian Yu Cao


Brains are organized hierarchically in respect to neural architecture and function. Locally, hundreds of neurons are synaptically interactive in a variety of microscopic networks. Distributions of short and long axons link the neural networks into mesoscopic populations of millions of neurons, which have collective properties that are not apparent at the microscopic level of synaptic and action potentials. Instead they are observed in averages provided by electric fields (ECoG) recorded from high-density arrays of intracranial electrodes on cortical surfaces. The mesoscopic populations are linked by yet longer axons into macroscopic neural masses in neocortex that form oscillatory patterns that may often span the entire length and breadth of each cerebral hemisphere. The high density (10^5 neurons and 10^9 synapses/ mm^3 in humans, ~13.7 billion neurons with ~137 trillion synapses) enables us to invoke a continuum above mm distances and ms durations. Field activities are observed by brain imaging from sensor arrays for EEG, MEG and fMRI.

 ** See full description under Part 1, Monday morning




  Symposium on Real-Time Consciousness,

    Volition and Action - A Tribute to Ben Libet - Part I

          (Part 2 - included in registration for Part I)


      Sponsored by the Macarthur Law & Neuroscience Project, and

      The University of Arizona Mind, Brain and Society Program.


       Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lynn Nadel   (and others)


This symposium consists of two 4 hour sessions to honor the work  of Benjamin Libet and its implications for moral and legal responsibiity. Libet, who died in the summer of 2007, was well known  for his ingenious experiments that seemed to show that conscious will occurs after readiness potentials in the brain. These striking results are often interpreted as showing that conscious will does not cause actions or that we do not have free will, but only free won't. We want to bring together some psychologists and philosophers who support this interpretation together with others who reject it, as well as scientists who are doing new work that builds on Libet's findings. We will also bring philosophers and lawyers to discuss the implications of Libet's work for freedom and responsibility.          Part 1-  Workshop on Libet and Conscious Will  and Responsibility

                                   Part 2 - Philosophical & Legal Implications of Libet's Work on Conscious Will


Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Professor of Philosophy and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies at Dartmouth College. He is also co-director of the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project.

Lynn Nadel,  is Regents Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. He is co-author (with John O'Keefe) of  The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map, and his research focuses on the role of this brain region in spatial cognition and episodic memory. He has published more than 150 papers and chapters, and edited 18 books, reflecting his interests in memory and stress, sleep and cognition, the nature and cause of mental retardation in Down syndrome, and the relation of memory to consciousness.

Larry Alexander is the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego Law School.

Terence Horgan is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona

Hakwan Lau is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Columbia University &  Brian Maniscalco works in Hakwan Lau's lab at Columbia

Al Mele is the Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University

Carey Morewedge is Assistant Professor of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University

Derk Pereboom is Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University

Sue Pockett works in the Physics department at the University of Auckland

Adina Roskies is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Dartmouth College

Angela Sirigu is Director of Research and of the Neuropsychology Group at the Institute of Cognitive Science,

     Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France.

Thalia Wheatley is Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College

Gideon Yaffe is Associate Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Southern California




   Games Brains Play: Neurological Disturbances of Self and Identity


       Todd Feinberg

What and where is the self? Neurological cases offer a unique opportunity to examine the underlying structure and neuroanatomical basis of the self. We can discern four partially overlapping patterns of neurological breakdown in an individual's normal sense of self. Disorders of the  bodily self transform the individual's concept of the body and concern the question 'What am I physically?' Disturbances of personal identity affect how an individual identifies him or herself and involve questions such as 'Who am I?' Perturbations of the relational self affect how objects and persons in the world are identified regarding their personal significance to the patient and affect questions such as 'Who are you with reference to me? How am I related to objects in the world?'  Pathologies of the 'narrative self' alter one's concept of their present circumstances and past history and concern questions such as 'What has happened to me? Where am I now and where have I been?'

In this workshop I will describe and show videotapes illustrating some of the classical neurological disorders of the self including:

Asomatognosia - a syndrome in which patients claim that a part of their body - most commonly a left arm that is paralyzed as a result of a stroke - is not their own. They may personify it as a separate being or claim it belongs to another person and give it a name like 'little Suzy'.

Delusions and fantasies about imaginary persons - a condition in which patients harbor delusional beliefs about imaginary friends, relatives or persecutors. In _Capgras syndrome for the mirror image, the patient_misidentifies their mirror reflection whereas other persons in the mirror are correctly identified. This was the case in a woman with early dementia who screamed at mirrors and referred to her reflection as a whore and tramp.

Personal confabulation in which the patient tells a specifically autobiographical fictional narrative, often inventing imaginary persons that may be an 'alter ego' of the patient, such as man with bilateral frontal damage and amnesia who spoke of an imaginary child that he and his wife were planning to adopt who 'had problems,' and was 'in and out of hospitals.'

Alien Hand Syndrome, also known as the Dr. Strangelove Syndrome, in which the hand of the patient performs actions, such as strangling the patient's own throat, that are beyond the patient's voluntary control. The alien hand syndrome is often caused by an anatomical separation of the left and right hemispheres as a result of disruption of the corpus callosum, the main white matter pathway connecting the hemispheres. In this case the alien hand is always on the left side.

We analyze these disorders and consider their implications for the science of self and consciousness, especially on the high frequency of right frontal lobe pathology in these conditions. I present a theoretical perspective on the contributions of the right frontal regions to self monitoring and the integration of the self and consider how these relate to psychological defense and ego functions in general and explore the implications of these findings for our understanding of the neuroscience of the self. 

Todd E. Feinberg, M.D. is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Chief of the Yarmon Neurobehavior and Alzheimer's Disease Center of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He is an author on nearly 100 publications and co-editor of the textbook Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychology (McGraw-Hill, 2003), author of Altered Egos: How the Brain Creates the Self (Oxford, 2001) and co-editor of the recently released The Lost Self: Pathologies of the Brain and Identity

(Oxford, 2005) His next project is The Brainchild Within: The Self from Axons to Identity forthcoming from W.W. Norton.



   Lucid Dreaming


     Stephen LaBerge


In the course of everyday life, most people do not question whether they are awake. Likewise, while dreaming, people are not usually aware that they are dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a significant exception to this generalization. During lucid dreams, one can reason rationally, remember the conditions of waking life, and chose one's course of action--all while remaining soundly asleep, fully engaged

in a dream world that can appear astonishingly real. Laboratory research at Stanford and elsewhere has proved by means of voluntary

eye-movement signals that lucid dreams occur during unequivocal REM sleep.

The discovery that lucid dreamers can remember to perform planned actions and signal to the laboratory opened a new approach to dream-state consciousness research. Lucid dreamers can perform experiments while dreaming, "time-stamping" particular dream events with eye-movement signals, allowing correlations between the dreamer's subjective reports and physiology, and enabling the methodical testing of hypotheses. We have used this strategy in a series of studies demonstrating significant correspondence between

dreamed actions and physiological responses.

The study of dreams can tell us much about how consciousness works. For example, comparing how waking and dreaming experiences are similar and different casts light upon the constructivist/top-down/endogenous and ecological/bottom-up/exogenous determinants of the contents of consciousness. In order to study dreams optimally, it is necessary to do so with the mindfulness and cognitive clarity afforded by lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a learnable skill that can be developed through training in dream recall, concentration, and prospective memory. The frequency of lucid dreaming can also be increased by a variety of other methods to be reviewed in the workshop, including pre-sleep pharmacological and behavioral manipulations; sleep-cycle interruption; and lucidity cueing by meaningful sensory stimuli applied during REM sleep.

This workshop will present an overview of scientific research on the theory and practice of lucid dreaming. Participants will learn techniques for inducing, stabilizing, and controlling lucid dreams, and how to use them for the exploration and development of consciousness. The program will include demonstrations of technology to assist lucid dream induction. We will also explore the relationship between lucid dreaming and consciousness in dream yoga, non-lucid dreams, out-of-body experiences, virtual reality world simulations, and waking life.

Stephen LaBerge received his Ph.D in Psychophysiology in 1980 from Stanford University where he researched consciousness, dreaming and waking, for 25 years. He has taught courses on sleep and dreaming, psychobiology, and altered states of consciousness at Stanford University, the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and San Francisco State University. In addition to his scientific writings on lucid dreaming he has published several influential popular books on the topic which have been translated into  18 languages.



   Reappraising Julian Jaynes’s Theory of Consciousness and Bicameral Mind -

      30 Years of New Evidence


      Brian J. McVeigh, Marcel Kuijsten


Thirty years ago Princeton University psychologist Julian Jaynes published his controversial but critically acclaimed The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), in which he put forth a new theory about a previous mentality called the bicameral (two-chambered) mind and the origin of consciousness. Despite its continued popularity, Jaynes's theory has not been widely discussed in academia. We believe this is due primarily to the following factors: (1) the complexity of the theory - its broad, multidisciplinary approach makes it challenging for any one individual to properly evaluate; (2) misunderstandings over Jaynes's precise definition of consciousness, with critics rejecting the notion of pre-conscious civilizations based on their own definition of consciousness, not Jaynes's; (3) the tendency in psychology to ignore anomalous psychological behavior central to understanding Jaynes's theory, such as hypnosis, spiritualist mediums, automatic writing, glossolalia, spirit possession and poetic and religious frenzy; and (4) the tendency in academia to ignore history as a source of evidence and insights for appreciating the psychic diversity and psychic plasticity of the human condition. With the goal of addressing these issues, this workshop will outline each of the major areas of evidence for Jaynes's theory, give special attention to new evidence supporting his theory that has emerged since the publication of The Origin (1976), and provide suggestions for further research. The workshop is divided into eight themed segments of approximately 30 minutes each. Each segment is divided into two parts - a brief presentation followed by a discussion period open to the participants.

Topics to be discussed will include:

  • the role of language and metaphors in constructing consciousness
  • rethinking the nature and history of auditory hallucination, schizophrenia, and children's hallucinated playmates
  • relevant behavioral patterns exhibited by ancient civilizations worldwide, including idolatry, monumental religious architecture,    treating the dead as if they were living, and the emergence of oracles and divination
  • evidence from split-brain and dual brain research for independent hemispheric activity
  • the mentality of pre-literate and pre-modern peoples
  • neurotheology and the role of the brain in religious experience
  • hypnosis, spirit possession, and trance states
  • significant differences in ancient versus modern dreams.

Brian J. McVeigh studied Asian Studies and Political Science at the State University of New York at Albany, from where he received his Master’s degree.  He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Princeton University and was a student of Julian Jaynes.  A psychological anthropologist and specialist on Japanese culture, he has lived and worked in Asia for almost 17 years. The author of seven books and numerous articles on spirit possession, religion, education, politics, nationalism, and popular culture, he now teaches in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona.  He is now researching the history of psychology in Japan and is also completing a book entitled "The Propertied Self: Wealth, Progress, and Human Nature."

Marcel Kuijsten, Founder and Executive Director of the Julian Jaynes Society.  He is editor of the book Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited (2007) and is co-editor (with Dr. Brian J. McVeigh) of The Jaynesian, the newsletter of the Julian Jaynes Society.




                              SESSION 3, Tuesday April 8,   (9:00 am to 1:00 pm)        


   The Unity of Consciousness

      Timothy Bayne


This workshop will provide an overview of the unity of consciousness. In the first hour we will focus on the question of how best to characterize the unity of consciousness. What exactly might we mean when we say that consciousness is, or is not, unified? We will focus here on the viability of an analysis of the unity of consciousness in terms of the representational content of consciousness. In the second hour we will examine the question of whether the unity of consciousness might break-down, either in ordinary life or in pathologies of consciousness such as dissociative disorders or the split-brain syndrome. In the third hour we will examine the relationship between the unity of consciousness and self-consciousness. What sorts of connections might hold between these two features of consciousness? And in our fourth and final hour we will explore the relationship between the unity of consciousness and theories of consciousness, focusing particularly on the intersection between the unity of consciousness and the search for the neural correlates of consciousness

Tim Bayne, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Philosophy of Mind at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St. Catherine's College. He is completing a
book on the unity of consciousness, forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2008. Together with Axel Cleeremans and Patrick Wilken, he is editing the Oxford Companion to Consciousness (2008). He has authored papers in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Bioethics, Consciousness and Cognition, Mind and Language, the Monist, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Perspectives, and Synthese. He has held visiting positions at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the Institut Jean Nicod, and the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University. He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy from the University of Otago and a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Arizona.




   Can Inner Experience Be Faithfully Described?


      Russell Hurlburt, Eric Schwitzgebel


Psychologist Russ Hurlburt is known for his innovative methods of exploring inner experience. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel is known for his skepticism about such methods. Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel will team up (perhaps "square off" would be a better term) and interview workshop attendees about the details of their inner experience. That interview will follow Hurlburt's Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) method. We will simulate the DES random beep in the workshop environment and ask workshop attendees to pay attention to whatever experiences were ongoing at the moments of a half-dozen random beeps. Hurlburt, Schwitzgebel, and the other workshop attendees will question the volunteers about those beeps during what DES calls the "expositional interview." During these interviews, we (all workshop participants) will conduct "sidebar" discussions about: what are the characteristics of good and bad questions; how believable are the subjects' reports; to what extent do we "lead the witness"; etc.

Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel have just completed a book (Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic; MIT Press, 2007) that does much the same thing as this workshop. Hurlburt is the originator of the DES method to be used here. He was also an originator of formal thought sampling methods and was the first to use beepers in the exploration of inner experience (1974). He is the author of four books and many articles on the DES method. Schwitzgebel is a leading authority about introspection and a noted skeptic about subjective reports about conscious experience. Thus this workshop intends to shine bright lights from opposing directions on many of the important questions in consciousness studies: Is it possible to apprehend and describe inner experience faithfully?  Are some methods of introspection better than others, and why? Can consciousness studies do without introspection?  All these questions will be discussed in the context of reports about the concrete, just-occurred experiences of workshop participants. 

Russell T. Hurlburt, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas explores inner experience--thoughts, feelings, sensations, and so on.  He is the originator of the Descriptive Experience Sampling method, which uses random beepers and intensive interviews to provide qualitative, idiographic descriptions of inner experience.  In the 1970s he was one of the first to use beepers in psychological research and was a creator of the "thought sampling" method.  Dr. Hurlburt considers the understanding of inner experience to be a fundamental task of psychology, and has written four books and many articles exploring how best to investigate experience.  He has explored the experience of a variety of people: adults and adolescents both with and without diagnoses such as bulimia, anxiety, schizophrenia, borderline personality, and Asperger's syndrome.  He is open to exploring any individual, group, method, or activity that may expand our understanding of inner experience. Dr. Hurlburt is also the author of a statistics textbook that presents the "eyeball estimation" techniques that he has developed for visualizing statistical processes.

Eric Schwitzgebel, Ph.D., Philosophy, U.C. Berkeley, 1997, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at U.C. Riverside.  Among his publications: "How well do we know our own conscious experience? The case of visual imagery" (JCS 2002), "Why did we think we dreamed in black and white?" (SHPS 2002), "Introspective training apprehensively defended: Reflections on Titchener's lab manual" (JCS 2004), "Do things look flat?" (PPR 2006), "Do you have constant tactile experience of your feet in your shoes? Or is experience limited to what's in attention?" (JCS 2007), "The unreliability of naive introspection" (Phil Review, forthcoming), and  (with Russell T. Hurlburt)  Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic  (MIT Press 2007).




   Panpsychism: A Spectrum of Views


      David Skrbina, Stephen Deiss, Werner Kriegelstein, Jonathan Powell and others

Panpsychism is the doctrine that consciousness or its immediate precursors are fundamental world features which exist throughout the universe. Historically, panpsychism was popular among some ancient Greek philosophers but became overshadowed by Christian thought in the West. Panspychism was revived in the Renaissance by Cardano, Bruno and others, and later by Spinoza, Leibniz, Fechner and Whitehead. Spinoza's concept of a common underlying entity (God/Nature in Spinoza's view) giving rise to both mind and matter was taken up into William James' neutral monism, and to some extent later 'dual aspect' views such as that of Chalmers and Strawson. Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR theory takes a similar approach, with the underlying common entity identified in Planck scale geometry.

Nonetheless, panpsychists and followers of related ideas (e.g. pan-protopsychists, Whiteheadian pan-experientialists, neo-Leibnizians) face the question of whether or not inanimate objects such as rocks have mental qualities (comparable to the question faced by computational functionalists of whether a thermostat is conscious).

This workshop presents a spectrum of panpsychist views, with each presenter addressing and explaining (among other issues) what it might be like to be a rock. David Skrbina will provide an overview and history of panpsychism in addition to his own viewpoint.

David Skrbina, Ph.D, is a Lecturer in philosophy at the University  of Michigan-Dearborn, and currently visiting professor of philosophy  at the University of Gent, Belgium.  He is a leading expert on  panpsychism, having written the definitive work on the topic,  Panpsychism in the West (2005; MIT Press), as well as the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry.  He is contributor and  editor of the forthcoming anthology Mind That Abides: Panpsychism  in the New Millennium  (John Benjamins Publishing).

Stephen Deiss, is a Senior Development Engineer in the UC San Diego Biology Department in the Integrated Systems Neuroscience Lab of the Neurobiology Section. He works in a VLSI design laboratory supporting research of others (for "neuromorphic" integrated circuits that mimic brain circuitry and function) by providing system level circuit board designs for IC test and application, and for brain machine interfaces. His own research is focused on universal correlates of consciousness in nature. He is working on a book and other publications that show that panspychism is a natural extension of general systems theory.

Werner Kriegelstein holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago.  A student of  Adorno, Fulbright scholar, and University of Chicago fellow, he has  taught at the University of Helsinki, Western Michigan University,  College of DuPage (Illinois), and the Interuniversity Center in  Dubrovnik.  Krieglstein is the author of  Dice-Playing God  (2003), Compassion, A New Philosophy of the Other (2002), and  Compassionate Thinking, An Introduction to Philosophy (2006).  He received a certificate as "master presenter" from the  University of Texas (Austin), and was awarded "outstanding teacher of  the year" for 2002 at the College of DuPage.

Jonathan Powell "Jon"  is a British Ph.D candidate at the University of Reading in the UK.  His thesis research began as an exploration into 'the self' as the ground for personal identity.  Having concluded that occurent conscious experience is the only correct identity criterion for the self, he expanded his research in order to explore consciousness in general.  It is this goal which has led him into a more interdisciplinary approach, in which he hopes to reconcile analytic philosophy of mind with Quantum Mechanics, Cognitive-Neuroscience and Eastern Philosophy."




   The Relationship Between Top-Down Attention and Consciousness 

      Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Christof Koch


Historically, the pervading assumption among sensory psychologists is that what a subject attends to is what she is conscious of. That is, attention and consciousness are very closely related, if not identical, processes. However, a number of recent authors have argued that these are two distinct processes, with different neuronal mechanisms. While the neuronal correlates of consciousness remain elusive, significant progress has been made in studying the neuronal correlates of “unconscious” processing; a multitude of techniques---such as masking, crowding, attentional blink, motion-induced blindness, continuous flash-suppression, and binocular rivalry (the demonstration of each technique will be given in the tutorial) ---permit visual scenes to be presented to subjects without subjects becoming aware of them. Such experiments, coupled with fMRI in humans and single-cell recordings in behaving monkeys, show that vigorous hemodynamic and spiking activity in cortex is often not associated with conscious perception.


Building upon our previous work (Koch & Tsuchiya, 2007) Attention and Consciousness: Two Distinct Processes, Trends in Cognitive Sciences) and workshops elsewhere, we consider the functional difference between attention and consciousness, dissect attention into top-down and bottom-up components and review the available methodologies to manipulate top-down attention and conscious awareness of the stimulus independently.


Further, we update the recent psychophysical and imaging evidence showing 1) that invisible stimuli can be attended with top-down attention and can influence subsequent behavior, 2) that to observe some behavioral evidence or neuronal activity for unconscious processing, top-down attention to invisible stimuli is necessary, 3) that under some conditions top-down attention and consciousness can result in opposite effects and 4) that invisible stimulus can be more effective to distract attention than visible stimulus.


 The philosopher Ned Block has argued on conceptual grounds for two forms of consciousness, access (A) and phenomenal (P) consciousness. Given the data, we argue that phenomenology without conscious access is a form of consciousness without top-down attention. We speculate that their neuronal correlates may be a coalition of neurons that are consigned to the back of cortex, without access to working memory and planning in frontal cortex.


We emphasize that it is important to separate out the effects of attention from the correlates of consciousness in the search for NCC.  It is plausible that some previously proposed NCC might have been contaminated by the neuronal correlates of attention, not consciousness.  

Naotsugu (Nao) Tsuchiya, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology.  He received his Ph. D. from Computation and Neural Systems at Caltech (2005) for his studies of psychophysics approaches for the contents of consciousness.

Christof Koch Ph.D., Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology, Department of Biology, California Institute of Technology




  Symposium on Real-Time Consciousness, Volition and Action

     A Tribute to Ben Libet - Part 2

        (included in registration for Part I )

        Sponsored by the Macarthur Law & Neuroscience Project, and

       The University of Arizona Mind, Brain and Society Program

       Lynn Nadel, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and others


This workshop consists of two 4 hour sessions to honor the work  of Benjamin Libet and its implications for moral and legal responsibiity. Libet, who died in the summer of 2007, was well known  for his ingenious experiments that seemed to show that conscious will occurs after readiness potentials in the brain. These striking results are often interpreted as showing that conscious will does not cause actions or that we do not have free will, but only free won't. We want to bring together some psychologists and philosophers who support this interpretation together with others who reject it, as well as scientists who are doing new work that builds on Libet's findings. We will also bring philosophers and lawyers to discuss the implications of Libet's work for freedom and responsibility.

See full description under Part 1, Monday afternoon



   How do you feel?  The neuroanatomical basis for human awareness of interoceptive

       feelings from the body

       Bud Craig


In this workshop, Dr. A. D. (Bud) Craig will discuss present knowledge, from imaging and anatomical experiments, on feelings from te body.  Experimental anatomical and physiological evidence will be presented that identifies a phylogenetically unique homeostatic afferent pathway to the insular cortex of humanoid primates representing the interoceptive sense of the condition of the body. Accumulating imaging evidence in humans supports the view that successive re-representations of this interoceptive pathway constitute an integrative progression culminating in the anterior insula that seems to form the basis for human awareness of the sentient self and of all feelings, emotions, music and time (the specious moment). These findings provide an anatomical basis for the James-Lange theory of emotion, for Damasio’s "somatic marker" hypothesis of consciousness, and for bidirectional interactions between emotions and bodily feelings that could underlie somatization. The insula, as the limbic sensory cortex, is integral for subjective feelings and acts in concert during all emotions with the anterior cingulate, or limbic motor cortex, which is integral for volition and agency. This view fits with recent work on the "Von Economo neurons" that are uniquely present in the fronto-insular and anterior cingulate cortices of humanoid primates, which may provide the interconnections between these two regions that were vital for the evolution of advanced emotional communication. Finally, this interoceptive (homeostatic) view of awareness also leads to a new proposal for the forebrain asymmetry of emotion and affect in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortices of the left and right sides of the human brain.

A. D. (Bud) Craig, is the Atkinson Research Scientist at the Barrow Neurological Institute, where he has been doing functional neuroanatomical research since 1986.  He has published nearly 100 basic research articles in major journals, including Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews in Neuroscience, and Annual Reviews in Neuroscience, and he has contributed numerous authoritative articles in encyclopediae.  He holds appointments as Research Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of Arizona and Research Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University.  He received the Kenneth Craik Award for Basic Research in Experimental Psychology in 2002 from Cambridge University for work identifying the neural bases for both objective and subjective feelings from the body.         




     Ayahuasca and Meditation Exploratory Field Research


         Frank Echenhofer


 This workshop will describe a new model for doing exploratory field research devised specifically to study altered states of consciousness. The model, methods, rationale, and practical implementation of this new approach of exploratory field research will be presented with opportunity for questions, answers, and comments. Two field research studies, conducted by the presenter, will be used as case examples to describe how exploratory field research works in practice and how it can play an important role in the overall effort to develop a science of consciousness. The first field research study to be presented will be a Meditation EEG research study conducted in Dharamsala, India in the Dalai Lama's monastery. A video conversation with the Dalai Lama will be shown to highlight the value of detailed conversation between researchers and an expert informant prior to conducting research. The second field research study to be presented is an ayahuasca EEG & phenomenology study conducted in Brazil and Peru. Conversations with a Shapibo shaman will be examined to explore the issues related to describing and interpreting altered states of consciousness experiences from Western vs. indigenous worldview perspectives. A video will be shown of an ayahuasca ceremony to help workshop participants understand the opportunities and challenges of altered states of consciousness research.

Exploratory field research will be presented as an example of one method of what has been called the science of discovery. In the science of discovery, the emphasis is not upon providing evidence to support hypotheses based on prior research, but rather upon discovering as yet unknown correspondences among variables that have not been examined. The value of discovery oriented research hinges upon the quality of preparation in deciding what specifically to examine, therefore the elements of this preparation process will be examined in fine detail.

Altered states of consciousness are, by definition, unusual and for reasons related to ecological validity, it is often appropriate to conduct such research in the field so that research participants can be in familiar environments during research activities. The practical issues involved in conducting field research will be explored using a "where to start, and what to do" approach. Topics such as ways of locating and qualifying research collaborators from the field research setting, finding venues to conduct research, locating and qualifying participants with specific altered states abilities, and locating and qualifying a knowledgeable logistics assistant well acquainted with both the field environment and potential pool of participants will be discussed.

A variety of recent developments in anthropology research methods and findings on altered states of consciousness will be presented that have helped shape this research model. The issue of the research investigator's familiarity with the altered states being examined will be discussed.

Dr. Frank G. Echenhofer is a professor in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. His doctorate is in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia. His interests are in the psychology of consciousness and altered statesof consciousness, EEG correlates of altered states, mental imagery, archetypal imagery, shamanism, psychotherapy process research, qualitative research methods, field research applied to consciousness studies, comparative religious experience, mysticism, and sacred art. His scholarly publications and presentations include EEG and meditation research, EEG and ayahuasca research, sacred art, archetypal imagery, and psychological transformation processes.



   Transformations of Consciousness


      Marilyn Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten


Our research over the last decade has explored the phenomenon by which people make significant shifts in their worldview. These transformations in consciousness can result in long-lasting changes in how people experience and understand themselves, others, and their environment. Focusing on positive transformations in consciousness, or those that result in improved health, well-being, and sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging, we systematically surveyed hundreds of people's stories of their own transformations, conducted in-depth interviews with 60 teachers and masters of the world's spiritual, religious, and transformative traditions, convened focus groups with people who lead transformational trainings, and surveyed 900 average people. We've looked for commonalities across individuals and traditions, with an eye toward determining what triggers, predicts, mediates, and results from transformative experiences and practices, both spiritual and secular. The presentation will include an overview of our findings, video selections,  and experiential practices, this workshop explores what we have learned about how people experience deep shifts in their consciousness, and how those deep shifts can be stimulated and nurtured in everyday life to lead to healing and wholeness.

Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Ph.D, is a clinical research scientist, medical anthropologist, writer, speaker, thought leader, and change consultant. Her work over the past three decades explores the interface of consciousness, science, and healing. She is Vice President for Research and Education at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and Senior Scientist at the Research Institute at California Pacific Medical Center. She has published hundreds of articles on consciousness studies , lectured widely on a number of topics, including talks at the United Nations, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Explorers Club, has taught at Trinity, Stanford, and Harvard Medical Centers, and is the co-editor of Consciousness and Healing. Integral Approaches to Mind Body Medicine (Churchill Livingston/Elsevier, 2005).              

Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, a researcher at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, and vice-president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the State of California, and several private foundations, and has focused on how emotion regulation is involved in addictions, on mindfulness-based approaches to cultivating health and well-being, and on experiences and practices that lead to psychospiritual transformation. Research Psychologist, Institute of Noetic Sciences and clinical psychologist and researcher specializing in the areas of addictions, emotion regulation and mind-body approaches to physical and psychological well-being.





   Meditation, Orgasm, Higher Consciousness: The Common Link


      Kleopatra Ormos, M.D.


Vestiges of sensory based information processing e.g. 'gut feeling', a still largely uncharted territory by science, are usually overridden by our thoughts and interpretations, which notoriously distort data available to us as we interact with our environment. The lure of logical thinking is hard to resist. It helps orient ourselves in space, time, and society and sort through confusing emotions. And who can deny

its role in producing breathtaking technological development? However, loosing our breath and touch with our body-awareness is no small price to pay for our trendy mental gadget. Thoughts, when not balanced by the calming effects of sensory experience, can contribute to the development of dissociation (an impaired sense of reality as a consequence of cognitive distortions, in severe forms capable of producing psychotic-like experiences without evidence of organic brain damage). Impaired reality testing, costs us a plethora of anxiety syndromes, depression, and can lead to the development of poor performance, strained relationships, obesity, and substance abuse among many other psychiatric and medical disorders. Lao Tze, already in the Tao The Ching, had emphasized the importance of silencing the mind as a key to awakening spiritual energy, 'ling-qi'. As one of the 'Eight Immortals' of Taoism, Lu Tung Ping put it: 'To conserve the spirit, one must stop thinking.' And that is exactly what happens for most people during orgasm. The running

commentary gives way to the experience of a sensory bolus, intense enough to engulf mind and body. But why does ancient Chinese wisdom advises men to refrain from orgasm in order to live a long, 'joyous' life, which concept is similarly influential in Tantric traditions?

Some experience orgasm as a breakdown of boundaries between self and lover and even the universe: a complete merging with what is in time, space, and dimensions. Instead of identifying separate realms of spiritual, physical, or metaphysical, they seem able to experience them all at once. Are they fully conscious? Are they experiencing altered states of 'reality?' Is quantum physics lurking in the background making these experiences possible, or is it just a voyeur? Disappearance of thoughts has also been reported by Tibetan monks who had practiced meditation by feeling unreferenced compassion. Increase in gamma synchrony and amplitude (Lutz et al) suggests long-term changes in their brains from years of meditation, and high levels of consciousness at baseline, and even greater intensity of consciousness during meditation (Hameroff). Through their practice, they experience ?a state of pure awareness that transcends the perception of a subject/object duality and breaks free from the constraints and traps of discursive thought (Ricard, Trinh).

Can we experience higher levels of consciousness free of thoughts without having to withdraw, from an angry spouse, to meditate or engage in sexual activity? Is it possible to transcend the perception of subject/object duality by feeling anger instead of compassion?

The workshop will explore these questions, and others that tie Meditation, Orgasm, and Higher Consciousness together.


Kleopatra Ormos, M.D. has spent her career refining methods that integrate principles of neuroscience, psychiatry, ancient medical and spiritual practices, nutrition, and exercise to help her clients improve their emotional and physical health, and guide them in their personal and professional growth. She received her M.D. degree in Hungary and her diploma in Acupuncture in Vienna, Austria. Inspired by her travels and field studies in India, Thailand, and China, she studied Ayurvedic and Chinese Traditional medicine, Buddhism, and yoga. She practices meditation and Qi Gung. Initially as a Leadership Training Program participant herself, she became a consultant to the chief medical officer for educational planning, methodology, and evaluation in the Division of Health Manpower Development of the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland). She served as a member of the study group on cross-professional education of health personnel, whose report, 'The Team Approach,' became part of the official WHO guidelines.  Her research experience at the Psychobiology department of the National Institutes of Mental Health (Bethesda, Maryland) led her to pursue a psychiatric residency at Stony Brook, NY.  Besides working in her private practice since 1993, she has coached several hundred executives, writers, and

performers throughout the US and Europe. Dr. Ormos has been a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology since 1995.  She is the founder and president of Sobras Institute, Center for Sustainable Emotional Well Being.