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?