Dr. Michael Graziano - The Consciousness PodcastMy guest this episode is Dr. Michael Graziano, Professor of Psychology at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute where he runs a lab and studies the brain basis of consciousness. He earned his PhD at PRINCETON UNIVERSITY in 1996 and is an accomplished musician and composer as well as a published author, having published several novels in addition to his published works.

We had a great conversation about his Attention Schema Theory and much more. 

We (roughly and out of order) covered the following questions:

  1. Your lab focuses on “the brain basis of consciousness.” Tell us a bit about the lab and what you guys are studying.
  2. Should we start with an overview of the evolution of consciousness? (Cambrian Explosion, nervous systems, language, tectum, etc.)
    1. Was ‘social prediction’ a big milestone in the evolution of human consciousness? (Never look a mountain lion in the eyes)
  3. How has language affected the evolution of schemas and consciousness?
  4. What is the Attention Schema Theory (AST)?
    1. Philosophers talk about Qualia (greenness, the smell of coffee). Do you say those are cases where the brain has arrived at a false conclusion? If so, can you expand on that?
      1. Does this make the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness moot? Rule out dualism?
    2. Awareness versus Attention?
      1. When you say a model is schematic, do you mean within the mind (neurons, chemicals, etc.), or of the object itself (like a basketball)? I think you mention different parts of the nervous system or brain being excited (or calmed) to create that model?
        1. What’s happening in the brain, physically, when a schema/model is created?
          1. Is there a process to store, link, categorize these models? (Cortical networks?)
          2. What kind of studies/observations have you made with these schemas?
          3. “In neuroscience, attention is a process of enhancing some signals at the expense of others. It’s a way of focusing resources.”
        2. Ego schema?
      2. Something it is like to be a bat…is that simply a matter of determining if the bat’s brain can assemble models. Can we measure that (fMRI) like we can in humans and know the answer? If it can be attentive, it can model (awareness), therefore it has consciousness?
        1. You refer to consciousness as a “lattice of cognitive and social properties”. Can you explain that for us?
    3. What experiments has your lab done on this? [dot experiment], what other experiments are in progress or coming? [hemispherical damage and awareness — thrown ball — purely physical? Attention? No awareness?]
    4. How do these schemas play into the brain’s role as a filter for the overwhelming amount of data and sensory input it has to process?
  5. Have any arguments contrary to AST given you pause?
    1. How could a non-physical, ‘outside’ consciousness affect neurons (Arrow B)? Well, if we hypothesized that they, in fact, could, what ways COULD that be possible? Are there such theories, have they been tested?
    2. Are there any experiences (qualia) that appear to contradict AST?
  6. What’s your take on other theories of consciousness: panpsychism, psi phenomena, etc.?
    1. Integrated Information Theory is a phlegm theory?
    2. I tend to come back to your way of thinking, then I’m presented with some things that can’t be explained by it:
      1. Near death experiences and other psi phenomena/experiences
      2. Dr. Dean Radin’s double-slit experiment
      3. Are these similar to social perception, like deities and ventriloquist dummies?
  7. What about dreams, hallucinations, or meditative visions? Are they models created by the brain based on other models? The brain can generate its own schema, which is not observed by the senses (awareness without attention – b/c there’s no physical component?)
    1. First, something exists (attention); then a caricature is created (awareness). What if awareness comes first? Is something then created? Is that a potential path to idealism?
  8. Given your background in music and composition, what are your thoughts on music and schemas, models, and consciousness?
    1. How do you explain creativity, a burst of inspiration, when creating music or literary ideas? [Art versus Science]
  9. You’ve also written several novels. Any of those touch on consciousness and the AST?
  10. What’s in your future, as far as studies, potential breakthroughs, books, musical compositions?
    1. Your predictions on us building a conscious robot/computer and the role of the AST in that?

My guest is Dr. Scott Husband of The University of Tampa. Dr. Husband’s primary field of study is Dr. Scott Husband: Neuroscience and Consciousness in Animalsbehavioral neuroscience with an emphasis on comparative neuroanatomy and cognition. He has studied higher-level visual processing, the role of dopamine in attention, and dopamine-hormone interactions in various species of birds.

His research goals are to contribute to the understanding of how neural circuits and neurochemistry contribute to complex perception and cognition, and to investigate brain evolution by studying the brain and the behavior of non-mammalian species.

We had a great conversation, touching on brain architecture, asking the philosophical question, is there ‘something it is like to be a human’, and the effect of language on the evolution of consciousness. Please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Scott Husband.

We discussed:

  1. How is the neural architecture of human brains both similar and different from other animal brains?
    1. Do these similarities and differences have effects on consciousness? If so, how?
    2. What role may consciousness have played in evolution, from fish to mammals to humans? At what point do different states, or layers, of consciousness appear? Is there a correlation between emerging consciousness and brain evolution (e.g. neocortex)?
  2. What can we say about brain structures and circuits and whether there is a certain requirement for consciousness?
  3. What kinds of experiments are being done in comparative cognition in other animals to try and get inside the “black box” of animal minds, and draw conclusions about their mental lives?
    1. What are your current hypotheses on the consciousness of animals? Some have it, some don’t? Which ones? Which ones are really intriguing? How about the ‘degree’ of consciousness?
    2. How is that observed or measured? What have you identified in your own work?
  4. Any special insight into the ‘hard question’ of consciousness given your studies of animals?
  5. Nagel: ‘Something it is like’ to be a bat. Maybe the question should be, “Can a bat…or a bird…or a bee…understand something it is like to be another conscious being?” Is there some kind of reflexive condition here necessary to establish that a creature is conscious?
  6. What are some of your personal thoughts and opinions on consciousness in general given your studies? Where do you stand, philosophically, on consciousness?
  7. What will you be working on in the future? 
  8. Do you see any significant outcomes or discoveries coming in the study of animal consciousness?

In this edition, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Marjorie Woollacott, author of the book, Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind, which she describes as both a scientist’s memoir and a research survey on human consciousness. Dr. Woollacott was a neuroscience professor at the University of Oregon for more than three decades and a meditator for almost four. She also has a master’s degree in Asian studies.  Her master’s thesis was the foundation for her book. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and includes both research in neuroscience and testing the efficacy of alternative forms of therapy such as tai chi and meditation for improving both attention and balance in adults.

Infinite Awareness The Awakening of a Scientific Mind Marjorie Hines Woollacott Pim van Lommel 9781538110195 Amazon com Books

Get the book at Amazon.

We had a great conversation about her studies and experiences around consciousness, meditation, and event psi phenomena. Please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Marjorie Woollacott.

Questions we discussed:

  1. Let’s start off with your story: your meditation workshop, the Swami, and how it all played with your being a Neuroscientist.
  2. After that experience, you spent time observing your own mind during meditation. What were you able to observe? What did you learn from that?
  3. You mention that mantras help to quiet the mind, letting thoughts go, even opens the filters to the non-local consciousness.
    1. First, What is non-local awareness or consciousness?
    2. How does this relate to paranormal experiences like NDEs?
      1. I’m guessing your top-down view of consciousness would mean that consciousness is already out-of-body and these observations are merely new perspectives, filtered down into the mind?
      2. Is there a link between paranormal experience and meditation? I’m curious about meditation being a window into consciousness, into my own consciousness, into the non-local consciousness. Is it? Can we exercise, modify, improve our mind/consciousness through meditation?
      3. Is there a connection to Robin Cahart-Harris’ (et al) study of psychedelics using fMRI imaging that showed these hallucinogens actually slow down parts of the brain, actually freeing consciousness from the brain’s own filters? If so, how does that play into the top-down architecture of consciousness?
  4. So, what is your notion of consciousness, how do you define or describe it? [the melding together of ‘Western science’ and ‘Hindu teachings’ on consciousness — how did you reconcile those two?]
    1. You mention that, ‘All this is consciousness’ — can you expand on that?
    2. How does it emerge in an individual, conscious being?
    3. What about the ‘ego’? Thoughts on that? ‘Self’ is an illusion?
  5. You’re a panpsychist? What does panpsychism mean to you — I hear a few different definitions.
    1. You’re also an idealist, believing that the mind creates reality? 
  6. You describe how our nervous system filters all the input it receives, that it must do this. The brain also filters a greater consciousness, non-local awareness (infinite awareness)? Can you expand on that?
    1. Can we access this non-local awareness?
      1. How does the brain filter this?
      2. What’s available to us if we don’t filter it? Can we turn the filter off?
      3. Aldous Huxley’s, “Doors of Perception” — the mind filters the greater consciousness and is opened by psychedelics/mescaline. Any thoughts on that? [turns out he might’ve been wrong, according to Carhart-Harris’ findings.]
  7. [given top-down design model] Does consciousness survive death? Does it change form, or does it persist?
  8. What do you think about how neuroscience is taught in our universities? Have you seen an evolution of these studies and teaching in the universities as a result of your experiences and those of others? (DOPS)
  9. In your own studies and in the study of consciousness/awareness/meditation, what about future discoveries or advances excites you?
  10. What else will you be working on?
  11. Anything else you’d like to share? Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences: https://www.aapsglobal.com/

In this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup. Bernardo has a Ph.D. in computer engineering with specializations in artificial intelligence and reconfigurable computing. He has worked as a scientist in some of the world’s foremost research laboratories, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Philips Research Laboratories (where the “Casimir Effect” of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). He has authored many academic papers and books on philosophy and science. Three of his most recent books, available at online booksellers are: More Than Allegory, Brief Peeks Beyond and Why Materialism Is Baloney.

Please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, where we dive into that notion that Materialism…is baloney.

Questions:

  1. How has your background in Computer Engineering and Artificial Intelligence affected your views on consciousness?How have your studies of consciousness and idealism affected your notion of AI and AC?
  2. What is the difference between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness?
    What do you think it would take for a computer to have what you call ‘private inner experience’? Possible? The hard question applies to computer consciousness as well as human consciousness?
  3. You have papers and videos and a book on breaking down the materialist argument(s). What is the most common argument for materialism and how do you counter that?
    Can we review the argument about psychoactive drugs?
    Do your counter-arguments to materialism also apply to dualism, since you’re removing the material part of the mind-body duality?
    You say it’s a mistake to say that science explains or supports materialism. Is that correct? Can you explain why that’s a mistake?
    What are your thoughts, if any, on integrated information theory (IIT) and how it measures consciousness in the brain, postulates a physical substrate of consciousness?
  4. As an idealist, how do you avoid solipsism? Or, do you?
  5. What is your opinion of ‘unconsciousness’?
    The self/ego and reflection, you say, ‘amplify’ consciousness. You also mention Robin Carhart-Harris’ psychedelic studies as decreasing brain activity. Is the ‘unconscious’ state a baseline condition of consciousness?
    What are your interpretations of Robin Carhart-Harris’ psychedelic studies, that brain activity slows down or reduces during psychedelic experiences?
    What IS ego/self?
    What implication does that have on the notion of dreams (or hallucinations)?
    Can you please tell us more about the ‘collective unconscious’ and how it generates reality?
  6. You mention (in Scientific American), that “subatomic particles are the “pixels” of experience, not necessarily of the experiencer.” What is the difference between the experience and the experiencer? Does an experience exist independently of the experiencer?
    Your analogy of pixels and pixelated images to experience, can you explain that for us? Would you mind running that analogy for one’s experience of, say, the color red? Also, to your analogy to the whirlpool?
  7. You mention that the universe, as a whole, can be conscious – is mental. Can you explain or expand on that?
    There is something it is like to be the universe, as a whole? I have as much of a hard time with that as I do a stone.
    Particles are affected by our observation. We can’t know of particles behaving independent of our observations. Therefore, the Universe is a product of our minds — idealism. Do I have that right?
  8. Where do you stand on the survival of consciousness after death?
    The body is the localization of consciousness? When the body dies, it de-localizes? Does it maintain memories, or are memories the function of (the image of) the brain?
    Where do you stand on psi phenomena, especially near death experiences? [Ed Kelly wrote the afterward for your book?]
    Newly added, what about the emergence of consciousness?
  9. In your own studies and in the study of consciousness, what about future discoveries or advances excites you?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Keith Frankish, a European philosopher and writer. I was first introduced to Dr. Frankish’s theory by David Chalmers’ keynote speech at The Science of Consciousness. The theory is Illusionism. Do we have consciousness or does it SEEM as if we have consciousness? Dr. Frankish is an Honorary Reader at the University of Sheffield, a Visiting Research Fellow with The Open University, and an Adjunct Professor with the Brain and Mind Programme at the University of Crete. His focus is primarily in philosophy of mind, but he has interests in many areas of philosophy.

Please enjoy this conversation on Illusionism with Dr. Keith Frankish. Oh, and there’s a bonus ‘far out’ question at the end on illusionism’s potential role in the brain as a portal to a greater consciousness. I came away from that conversation with a new perspective. Again, please enjoy this edition of The Consciousness Podcast with Dr. Keith Frankish.

Illusionism: As a Theory of Consciousness  edited by Keith Frankish

Questions:

  1. When did you come into Illusionism and how did you get there?
    1. In layman’s terms, what is ‘illusionism’?
    2. What about the ‘illusion problem.’ What is the ‘illusion problem’?
    3. So, you’re not a zombie?
  2. You mention that phenomenal properties (qualia) are illusory, that we have a subset of (distorted) information required to really understand the phenomenal experience, that we ‘misrepresent’ those experiences. Can you expand on that notion?
    1. We don’t have phenomenal experiences, we ‘seem’ to have them. Where or how does the ‘seeming’ happen? [that’s the illusion problem?]
  3. It seems that phenomenal experiences are tied to our own interpretation and introspection (what it is like) of our sensory states, which would rule out dualism, no?
    1. Is illusionism mutually exclusive from dualism? That feels like an odd question. We’re talking about consciousness, that it’s an illusion…but, even if it’s an illusion, is it separate from the brain/body?
    2. Is ‘consciousness’ the illusory experience? Chalmers said that: ‘If this is an illusion, then the illusion is consciousness.’ It starts to feel like a contradiction to me. Am I getting part of this wrong?
    3. There is not a line between ‘seeming to have’ (illusionism) and ‘what it is like to have’ (realism). If I understand, those are one and the same experience. Do you see any way for that line to be drawn or discovered? What could be the discovery that causes illusionism to break down?
    4. What about the ego? How does that fit into Illusionism? As you state, Humphrey proposes that consciousness enriches life, adding interests and goals. Is that where/how ego/self emerges?
    5. You state that, “Evolution couldn’t set it up so that brain states really have qualia.” Why not?
      1. Evolution has created qualia that seem to be real, even though they are not (Pain?). What is the mechanism behind this? Can you shed some light on the emergence of these illusory qualia? Where do they come from? [again, illusion problem here?]
      2. How tightly tied to sensory states is the illusion? Is there illusion outside of these state? For example, can there be multiple layers of illusion, illusory qualia derived from other (even multiple) illusory qualia?
    6. What are your plans, with illusionism or new theories, for the future?

Far Out Question:

  1. It’s almost like these illusions (qualia) are simple representations of extremely complex functions presented to us (introspection) as a way to help us understand (Dennett’s computer icons, Rey’s cartoon, etc.). Others have proposed that the brain is a portal, filter to a larger consciousness. I can see a common concept here: that the brain (or something?) is filtering reality or a greater consciousness in order to enrich, or even make possible, our experiences, or lives.
    1. Could these illusions be a middleman between the dual mind and brain, that the mind is actually another level above what we have been describing as consciousness (the illusion)?
    2. Will these illusions continue to evolve in passing the torch gradually over to the ‘full consciousness’?
    3. Maybe some have been born without this illusion generator, without the filter, and have gone insane or become geniuses (cosmic consciousness) given access to this larger consciousness or flow of information and experience?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Michael Nahm, and the topic was Terminal Lucidity, a term he coined. Terminal Lucidity has implications in end-of-life experience, Near Death Experience, and provides insight into human consciousness. Dr. Nahm is a Biologist and studied Zoology, Botanics, Genetics, and Palaeontology. Learn more about his thoughts, ideas, and studies at www.michaelnahm.com.

Please enjoy this edition of The Consciousness Podcast with Dr. Michael Nahm. And listen past the end for a ‘far out’ discussion on psychedelics and Terminal Lucidity.

  1. Questions:
    The topic today is a term you coined, Terminal Lucidity. Can you tell us what that is and why you’re drawn to it?

    1. For those who have not observed or studied Terminal Lucidity, what is that experience like for the patient and for the family or friends who are there for that moment?
      1. How common, statistically, is Terminal Lucidity? Some hospice care nurses even tell families to expect it. Is what they describe different from actual ‘Terminal Lucidity’ due to the non-impairment of those patients’ brains?
        1. In terms of doing studies, is it common enough that using cameras, EEGs or MRIs could provide some insight? It’s probably not that simple. This is very difficult to study, isn’t it
      2. This has been observed even in patients with meningitis, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease or strokes. Can you tell us more about that? I find that interesting, given the physical damage that has occurred to those brains.
      3. Is there a correlation to the affected areas of the brain (temporal lobe in Alzheimer’s, other sections in brain tumors) even neuronal damage and this lucidity? If so, where do you think this moment of clarity originates?
    2. How have your studies of Terminal Lucidity affected your idea of the nature of the mind, consciousness overall?
    3. You mention that the mind, even memories, is not generated by the brain, “that the brain functions as a kind of filter or transmitter organ.” This gets right at the hard problem of consciousness. What are your thoughts, observations, hypotheses on what’s going on there with the mind/brain? How do you see the brain as this ‘filter’ or ‘transmitter organ’?
    4. I’m curious about the mind/brain ‘hard problem’ in many of these cases but especially of the 91-year-old stroke victim. The mind/brain problem seems to be mostly concerned with how, or even does, the brain create the mind or allow the mind to connect to the body. In this case, it almost appears as though her mind was able to overcome physical, neuronal blocks (a stroke) to facilitate muscle movement and speech that were physically impossible, or at least no longer controlled by her nervous system. Can you expand on that? Am I getting that right? How could that be possible?
    5. You have collaborated with NDE experts like Drs. Greyson and Kelly and their colleagues at UVA. How does Terminal Lucidity tie into the NDE experience? [timing, before death] Deathbed visions.
      1. What is your opinion on survival of the mind/consciousness after death?
    6. There’s a time element to the cases of Terminal Lucidity, from a couple weeks to minutes before death. Sorry if I’m going way out there, but…[what is time to a dying mind, what is time to consciousness]…is it possible that somebody with a normal/healthy brain/mind, who dies a sudden death, like from an accident or an aneurism or a massive heart attack, might also have his/her own Terminally Lucid experience (clarity)?
    7. Where do you see further study of Terminal Lucidity taking you, what are the long-term possibilities with your studies? Terminal Lucidity scale.
      1. Do you think there’s a possibility of holding a person in this state once it presents itself? [psilocybin/lsd]
      2. …in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients?
      3. …in helping families, doctors and families during those last moments?
    8. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you’d like to discuss?

Far Out Question: Psilocybin reconnecting the networks; can that happen with a released chemical in the brain connected to the knowledge of pending death? Goes around damaged areas of the brain?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), and our conversation, I’d say, surrounded the topic of scientific study of the foundation of psi phenomena and consciousness. Dr. Radin earned an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the research staff at Noetic Sciences in 2001, he held appointments at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and SRI International. He is author or coauthor of over 250 technical and popular articles, three dozen book chapters, and three books including the best-selling The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds, and the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award winner, SUPERNORMAL. His latest book, Real Magic, is available now at booksellers everywhere.

We had a fascinating discussion, so please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Dean Radin.

Get Dr. Radin’s lastest book today!

We discussed:

  • How do you define consciousness?
  • Some of your work centers around the concept that ‘we are all part of an interconnected whole’ — like the double-slit experiment, random number generator, and the ‘being stared at’ study — [we’ll discuss some of these in more detail]. Can you tell us what that means, “interconnected whole”? Is it the interconnection of consciousnesses? Is there a larger consciousness that we all tap into?
  • You’re probably sick of having to do this, but…could you give a relatively simple explanation of your double-slit experiment and the implications the results have in understanding consciousness?
    • So, what do you think it as play here? What do you think is happening?
    • In your experiment’s results, why the distinction between those who meditate and those who don’t? What made you even want to observe that difference?
  • You also did a meta study on the ‘sense of being stared at’, right? What did you find there, regarding consciousness?
  • What other psi research have you done, especially as it relates to consciousness?
  • You seem to get a lot of criticism for your work. What do you think is behind all of that skepticism?
  • What draws the most criticism?
  • In your synchronicity story (PSI Quest Labs), you mention ‘consciousness that’s emerging into the world at large’. Can you expand on that concept (emergence of consciousness outside the mind/body)? How would that work?
  • What other psi phenomena have you studied, and how does consciousness tie into those?
  • Please tell us a little bit about the Institute of Noetic Sciences and what you guys are focused on these days.
  • Other than what we’ve covered here, is there anything else you’d like to share with us? You have a new book being released in April, Real Magic. What do you cover in that book?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Bernard Kobes from my Alma Mater, Arizona State University. Dr. Kobes has been an Associate Professor of Philosophy at ASU since 1986, where he has been recognized with numerous awards. We covered everything from what-it-is-like consciousness to the emergence of consciousness in both individuals and in species to the morality and ethics of uploading one’s consciousness into a computer.

Topics we covered include:

  1. How do you define consciousness?
  2. Tell us about your seminar, Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness, and its topic: Metaphysical aspects of an apparent tension between dependence of consciousness on the physical brain and body, and the novelty of consciousness relative to the physical.
    1. What is that dependence of consciousness on the physical brain and body? How does this relate to your idea of dualism/physicalism?
    2. Does this explore the binding of the mind to the body?
    3. Does consciousness emerge from the physical layers of the brain/body? What is ‘emergentism’?
    4. What about weak and strong emergence? What is that, and what is your view on this?
    5. You describe consciousness (what-it-is-like consciousness) as one of the layers. What are the layers? At what point do the layers move from physical to metaphysical/phenomenal?
      1. How do the Mary and archangel arguments help explain this?
      2. How is emergentism a form a dualism, or is it?
    6. The physical closure principle (every physical event that has a cause has a sufficient physical cause): how does this play into dualism? Do you accept this?
    7. Panpsychism: you argue that panpsychism is not plausible, because of the ‘combination problem’. Can you explain/expand on that?
    8. You reject substance-dualism. What about property dualism? Maybe provide an explanation of each if pertinent.
    9. Regarding your “thoughts and conjectures about distinctively human forms of consciousness, based partly on a lecture given at ASU on February 1, 2018, by the paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall,” can you give us a quick synopsis on your ideas regarding the evolution of consciousness in humans, including any key points you find particularly interesting?
      1. What about Block’s notion of ‘access to consciousness’. What do you mean by that?
        You’ve discussed emergence of consciousness as related to an individual mind/brain. What are you thoughts here on the emergence of ‘consciousness’ in a species, in humans?
    10. What is “constitution of consciousness”?
    11. Do you see any breakthroughs coming in the study/understanding of consciousness?
    12. Is one’s consciousness something, like knowledge and wisdom or muscle development, something that one can exercise/improve/expand upon?
    13. In addition to what we’ve discussed, is there anything else you’d like to bring up and/or discuss?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jonathan Simon, who is a a postdoctoral associate in the NYU Department of Philosophy, and research fellow of the NYU Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness and the Global Institute for Advanced Study Project on Space, Time and Consciousness. His primary research is in the metaphysics of mind. He also has research interests in perception, the metaphysics of science, moral psychology, value theory, and legal and political philosophy. We had a great discussion on property dualism, the immortality of the soul, and more.

We covered these Questions:

  1. Let’s start with this: how do you define consciousness?
  2. You describe yourself as a ‘property’ dualist? What exactly is that?
  3. A discussion on the neural correlates, emergence of mind/consciousness, and your his views.
    1. Tell me about the topic of your dissertation, ‘borderline’ consciousness. What does that mean?
    2. What is your view on the matter?
    3. Are you familiar with research done by Dr. Tononi and Dr.Koch on their experiments in measuring consciousness? I would think that could have fascinating ramifications on testing borderline consciousness.
    4. So…your take on panpsychism, then?
  4. Can consciousness survive the death of the body/brain, is it immortal, in your view?
  5. In your paper on immortality, you describe a gap, a kind of quantum leap, between existence and non-existence that is the central issue of the survival of consciousness.
    1. Can you quickly give us a summary of that argument?
    2. Where do you land on that?
    3. The argument is about the immortality of the ‘soul’. Does ‘soul’ equate to consciousness?
    4. If the immortality arguments holds true (true? Valid? I’m starting to get philosophy 101 flashbacks), what actually survives?
    5. Any thought as to if/how quantum physics theory could play into this?
  6. Is there a practical application to all of this? Is there some way we can expand, exercise, observe our own consciousness?
  7. What are you going to be studying or working on in the future, when it comes to consciousness? Do you see any breakthroughs coming that really get you excited?

And…a short discussion on Artificial Intelligence and consciousness.

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. George Mashour. Dr. Mashour is an anesthesiologist and neuroscientist who is internationally recognized for his study of consciousness. He approaches the question of consciousness using computational models, experimental models, translational studies in healthy volunteers, and clinical research in surgical patients.He thinks a lot about the universe and how it came to be, about the brain, how it produces consciousness and how the sentient mind emerges from the physical brain. We covered those topics and more, so please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Mashour.

  1. How did you come to study consciousness? Is that a natural part of being an anesthesiologist? Is it part of understanding what your patients are experiencing?
  2. How do you define consciousness? What is consciousness?
  3. You mention anesthesiology with ‘other states of consciousness.’ What are those states and what have you learned about them from your work?
  4. What is ‘cognitive binding’, and the binding problem?
  5. How is it a crucial event for consciousness itself?
  6. I see you mentioned this binding to altered states of consciousness. Are those the states you mentioned above?
  7. How do anesthetics play into these bindings? Is the administering of anesthetics ‘cognitive UNbinding’?
  8. What else, if anything, can cause this ‘unbinding’ and create similar effects on consciousness?
  9. Simultaneity, what is it, can you explain that real quick? How does simultaneity (temporal binding) play into this, relative to consciousness?
  10. Have you observed the actual emergence of consciousness, as one moves from unconscious to consciousness under anesthesica and vice versa? Does that provide any insight into what might be the initial emergence of consciousness in a maturing human (animal), or even that within a species?
  11. Can one measure consciousness, especially as it relates to anesthetics administered to a patient?
  12. Does your work, your study relate, or even help answer, the ‘hard problem of consciousness’?
  13. How does your work incorporate the philosophy of Kant?
  14. What does the brain know or not know at different levels of consciousness?
  15. I saw in your video from The Science of Consciousness event, that you mention ego dissolution with Ketamine. What does that mean to you, in terms of ‘ego’, consciousness, and the dissolution of the ego? What happens during ego dissolution?
  16. What lessons can we take from your studies? How do you think we’ll see consciousness differently from our current view? Do you think there will be a way that we can use your this knowledge to affect our own consciousness, to exercise it, to expand it, to connect it to others’? Do you see any SciFi in your work?
  17. Is there anything else that you would like to share regarding your studies?