In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996. It took eight years to completely recover all of her physical function and thinking ability. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. We discussed left-brain, right-brain and what that means for our understanding of consciousness. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.
You became a neuroanatomist for personal reasons — your brother?
Can you tell us what a neuroanatomist is, what you study?
I’m sure most people listening know your story, but could I trouble you to give us a recap of your stroke experience?
As a neuroanatomist, what do (and did) you know about the roles of the two hemispheres of the brain?
What did you learn about them as a result of your personal experience?
During your stroke and during recovery — and today — how did you experience your consciousness?
“At one with the universe”? Loss of left brain, amazing being, life!
You still live right-brain/left-brain, and friends can tell which one just walked in the room? Can you control this? [now you eat squash? Can’t see that happening for me]
What is your opinion on consciousness and the brain? Is consciousness created by brain matter? Something else?
How did your experience help form that opinion?
Consciousness is numerous programs running all at the same time?
Consciousness in the cells of our body…expand on that?
Two hemispheres, two consciousnesses?
What happens when they recombine?
[Right mind/brain: no time, now, creative, out-of-the-box]
[Left mind/brain: sequences right brain experience in time; inner voice; self/ego; patterns & predictions; literal]
You describe your body as a portal for the ‘energy’ that you are? That you’re just visiting?
Is that “real” or a perception of your right brain?
What do you mean, that we are ‘energy beings’?
How has this experience helped you to help others?
“I believe the more time we spend running the deep inner peace circuitry of our right brain, then the more peace we will project into the world, and ultimately the more peace we will have on the planet.” I assume we can learn that from you in the book? Any teasers you’d like to share?
Whine time? Listen to left-brain chatter. Observe and dismiss it.
Other mechanisms are in the book, things to divert away from the negative activities of the left brain.
Not subject matter of this podcast, but your advice in loved-ones working with those who’d suffered similar strokes is great info, very warm and important
What’s next from you? New book next year (April 2021) on the practical use of this information.
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Chris Niebauer. Dr. Niebauer the the author of No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism. He earned his Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology at the University of Toledo, with a focus on the differences between the left and right sides of the human brain. He is currently a professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on consciousness, mindfulness, left- and right-brain differences, and artificial intelligence. We discussed mind versus consciousness and the link to Eastern philosophy. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Chris Niebauer.
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Mark Gober, himself the host of a podcast about consciousness. Mark is a Board member at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), Partner at Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley, former New York investment banker and now also an author and podcast host. His book, An End to Upside Down Thinking, shines the light on a different way of understanding consciousness.
We had a great conversation and covered consciousness as a fundamental property, psi phenomena, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Mark Gober.
Questions we discussed:
First, tell us a little bit about your book, “An End to Upside Down Thinking.” [I think from the subtitle, we can get an idea of your position on consciousness, but please give us an overview.]
What is the central idea here that will rock the scientific world?
You’ve gotten some pretty impressive endorsements. Any from hard scientists such as physicists, neuroscientists, etc.?
If not, why do you think that is?
What about your ideas could or should change the way we treat each other?
What is consciousness?
How does this explain things like:
Near death experiences (NDEs)
Other psi phenomena
Your position is that consciousness is fundamental, that is creates all material reality, yes?
Can you explain how that works, or expand on the idea for us?
What role, if any, does the brain, the body, neurons, etc. play in our consciousness? A filter.
My ‘identity’ is my consciousness, not my body. Does that mean my consciousness existed outside the timeline of my earthly life, before and after?
What kind of power do I have then, with my consciousness? Can I intentionally change my reality?
How do consciousnesses (say yours and mine or that of the non-physical and mine) interact?
What’s next for you after this book?
What breakthroughs do you see coming in the next 5-15 years with our understanding of consciousness?
In this episode, I welcome back previous guest, Riccardo Manzotti, along with his friend and co-author, Tim Parks. We discussed their new book, Dialogues on Consciousness, in which the two discuss the nature of consciousness.
TIM PARKS, novelist, essayist and translator, is the author of nineteen works of fiction, including Europa, shortlisted for the Booker. He is a regular contributor to both The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books. He lives in Italy, where he teaches literature and translation studies at IULM in Milan
RICCARDO MANZOTTI is a philosopher, psychologist, and robotics engineer who has written more than 50 scientific papers and several books, among them The Spread Mind: Why Consciousness and the World Are One. A former Fulbright Visiting Scholar at MIT, he is now visiting professor at UAEU University (Emirates).
We had a great conversation. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Riccardo Manzotti and author Tim Parks.
Please tell us about these dialogues between you two. How did they come about? Tim, you want to start us off with that?
Tim, I’m curious about your curiosity with consciousness. Where did that come from?
Riccardo, any new revelations in the book for you, anything that builds on the Spread Mind, beyond it?
Okay, let’s start off like your book. What is consciousness?
You use the term “internalist”, whereas I’m used to terms like “physicalist” or “materialist”. Is there a difference?
You can’t deduce “mind” from looking at neurons. What does that tell you/us?
Is mind within the skull? What about memories and information? How exactly are memories stored and recalled?
If the mind is not internal, how do changes in the physical/internal brain affect consciousness? What is the connector between internal brain and external mind?
Red/white square experiment…
It’s fascinating to essentially eavesdrop on your conversation in this book. Over the years that you two had these conversations, did either of you experience a change in how you understand consciousness?
What do you two agree on, and where do you disagree with each other?
I’d like to ask you about “The Now.” Dreams, hallucinations, even thoughts in my mind, are made up of experiences I’ve already had. But don’t I experience those in my consciousness right now? Even if the sun shined eight minutes ago, aren’t I experiencing it, phenomenally, right here, right now?
Sensory events are not simultaneous, right? Light hits my eyes before sound enters my ears. My brain puts the model together, combines the consciousnesses of multiple properties of an object (say, a train). Then, I experience the train in my now. Isn’t that “the now” of all of my phenomenal experiences? No? There is no “now”?
The body facilitates, or selects, the objects and their connected experiences. What is different in this selection/facilitation process during altered states of consciousness, such as dreams or psychedelics or meditation?
Somebody asked you, Tim, about the properties of objects floating “through the air” to the brain. That sounds too literal of a way to describe this. But let me put it another way. I hear about the brain being like a radio receiver, and the transmitted signal is a greater, universal consciousness that we tune in to. The brain as a receiver sounds compatible with Spread Mind. Is it? Anything there? Do objects “transmit” their properties via a universal consciousness medium? Is there a source?
So, what is the ego? What is one’s self?
What’s happening when I have a thought? How does that relate to objects? And what about creativity or inspiration?
Do I have any control at all over my thoughts, my actions, my desires?
Are you two still having these conversations? Is there more to come for us fans of consciousness? What other topics are you exploring?
Looking to the future of our understanding of consciousness, what are you two excited for, what breakthroughs or discoveries or advancements?
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Berit Brogaard. We discussed science and consciousness, brain waves and neural correlates of consciousness, and her work with synesthesia and savant syndrome. Dr. Berit “Brit” Brogaard is a Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Brogaard Lab at the University of Miami. Her areas of research include philosophy of perception, philosophy of emotions, and philosophy of language. She is the author of several books, including Transient Truths and The Superhuman Mind.
We had a great conversation and covered topics ranging from philosophy to hard science, all in the context of mind-brain duality. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Berit Brogaard.
Questions we explored:
You come at this with a varied background – from philosophy to neuroscience. Maybe we can start with your overview of what consciousness is and how it works. I saw part of your interview with Deepak Chopra and you touched on panpsychism. Is that part of your view (definition of) on consciousness?
What makes you think Science WILL explain it?
What about dualism? Physicalism?
Survival after physical death?
Neural Correlates of Consciousness/Brain Waves:
What’s happening in our brain when we have thoughts and/or phenomenal experiences?
How do these relate to brain waves? Delta, Alpha, Beta, Theta, Gamma, etc. Maybe first tell us what those brain waves are?
Altered states of consciousness, meditation?
How do these brain waves affect neurons? Microtubules?
How does this relate to phenomenal consciousness? Can you correlate brain activity with ‘something it is like’-ness?
Are you able to separate (mathematical) components of these brain waves in such a way that you can observe ‘consciousness’?
Does this relate to memory and schema — groups of neurons firing together to form a memory?
I think about Giulio Tanoni’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) research when we discuss brain waves. What are your thoughts on their work with IIT and brain waves? Christof Koch mentioned in our interview that they might be able to measure the consciousness of a stone one day. Thoughts on that?
What has your work shown you about mind-brain duality (or alternately, physicalism)?
You believe that science will be able to explain consciousness? How/why?
What have you observed in your laboratories regarding consciousness and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)?
You study Synesthesia and savant syndrome, among other things. What has that taught you about consciousness?
What is happening in the brain with a synesthete?
Does this provide insight into the neural correlates of consciousness?
Anything else you’d like to share, anything that I missed?
What will you be working on in the near future?
Do you see any breakthroughs coming in our understanding of phenomenal consciousness?
This episode is a little different from what you’ve come to expect. I recently covered the Arizona Psychedelics Conference here in my home state of Arizona, hoping to learn from the insight gained by those who work in the healing world of psychedelic therapies. I had a chance to sit down with three incredible people who work in the field and get their ideas on human consciousness, based on their personal experiences and those with their patients and clients.
The first segment is with Kyle Buller, the co-founder of Psychedelics Today. Kyle has a BA in Transpersonal Psychology from Burlington College where he studied the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness by exploring shamanism, plant medicine, Holotropic Breathwork, and psychedelic psychotherapy. We discussed his own Near Death Experience and what he learned about his own consciousness. You can learn more about his practice at www.settingsunwellness.com.
Transpersonal breathwork, Stan and Christina Groff
Vehicle to reach non-ordinary state of consciousness
Transpersonal layers, non-waking consciousness
NDE, and Kyle’s Experience
Access to new information; new view of the world; map of how the world worked
What is consciousness? Spirit? Body.
What does it mean to be alive?
Is the body a manifestation of a higher consciousness?
Non-ordinary states of consciousness, altered states of consciousness
The body is a receiver of consciousness, like a TV
Mind-body spirit connection; body experience produces emotions, mind changes
Cryptography of the human psyche
The second segment (at 48:50) is with Veronika Gold, co-founder, therapist, and consultant at Polaris Insight Center, San Francisco based clinic providing Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy We also had a great conversation on her clinic’s therapies, which are important to me, as a survivor of my son’s suicide, and she also shared her insight into human consciousness.
Ketamine, suicide and my story
Czech Republic, Revolution, Russian Invasion
Transpersonal Conference, Stan Grof
Holotropic breathwork and non-ordinary states of consciousness
Realization Process, Judith Blackstone
Non-ordinary versus Altered States of Consciousness
Ketamine’s insight into out-of-body or NDE
The third segment…isn’t here…I fat finger deleted it after the interview. So awful, because my conversation with Dr. Sam Ko was amazing. Dr. Ko is is a Board Certified Emergency Physician and founder of Reset Ketamine (www.resetketamine.com) in Palm Springs, CA. We really got into consciousness, layers of consciousness from the brain to human consciousness to universal consciousness. He really got me thinking and shed new light on my own perception of consciousness. I sure hope I can get back and re-do that interview.
So, please enjoy my conversation with Kyle Buller, followed by my interview with Veronika Gold.
We had a great conversation and covered consciousness, split-brains and the mind-body problem, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Elizabeth Schechter.
What is Psychological unity? Unity of Consciousness?
Let’s get a baseline to work from here. How do you define consciousness? What IS consciousness? Mind v. Person.
Duality? Physicalism? Etc.
What is the relationship of a person to their mind/brain?
Please give us a little background on what ‘split brain’ is.
How does this play into your views on ‘unity’ of consciousness and psychology?
Does this result in two, independent consciousnesses? (2-person claim)
Perspectives versus Agents versus Thinkers? What are the differences there, and how do those differences play into understanding consciousness?
In a split brain, parts of the brain are still integrated, or synchronized, right? Like vision? What else? [two separate human beings sitting next to each other would also be getting the same inputs, right?]
How does that play into all of this?
I’m curious about the implications of split brain and mind-brain duality. What, if any, observations have been made with split-brain patients that might shed light on that and the binding problem?
Is the single ‘mind’ still bound to both sides of a split brain?
Can (does) one side of the brain ask, “Something it is like to be the other side of my brain?”
“I think, therefore I am” and other tests of individuality and consciousness? Have those been done, experimentally?
The mirror test (animals) on a split brain subject?
We can cut the connection (corpus callosum) between the two hemispheres. Can we introduce a third (artificial) ‘hemisphere’?
What is a consciousness versus a person: conjoined twins, DID, split brain?
What are you currently working on? What can we expect from you in the near future?
In the field of consciousness (or other areas), what studies or potential breakthroughs excite you?
In this episode, I discussed Connectome Harmonics and neural correlates of consciousness, specifically under the influence of LSD, mindfulness meditation and dream sleep with Dr. Selen Atasoy. Dr. Atasoy’s research explores brain dynamics in different states consciousness, including sleep, meditation, and psychedelic states, as well as in psychiatric disorders, by analysing fMRI and MEG data within the mathematical framework of harmonic waves. She has extensive experience working in experimental and computational neuroscience exploring neural correlates of consciousness. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral researcher at Hedonia Transnational Research Group, University of Oxford.
We had a great conversation.. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Selen Atasoy.
Questions we discussed:
I often ask my guests to share their own ‘definition’ of consciousness. Given your studies, including those on LSD and the brain, what have you learned about consciousness and do you have a definition or description of what consciousness is?
Let’s talk about your theory, “Connectome harmonics”
First, can you give us a high level, layman’s overview of the theory and the studies behind it?
What’s vibrating in the brain, what are these waves and their substrate?
You mentioned, ‘when you silence the mind, you increase the power and energy of brain activity.’ What’s going on in the brain when you ‘silence the mind’? Is that the ‘intrinsic energy’ of a brain state?
You found that low frequencies decrease in energy with LSD, high frequencies increase in energy with LSD? Is that right?
Low frequencies showed reduced energy > ego dissolution and emotional arousal? [default mode network — that gives more evidence to the idea that the DMN is the ‘ego’?]
Higher frequencies showed increased energy > positive moods
You mention that LSD appears to be activating more brain states simultaneously, that it’s a reorganization of brain states, as the brain enters ‘criticality’, that barrier between order and chaos. Example: marching soldiers > playing kids, group of people dancing individually but interacting, flexibility, organization
Order and chaos of what? Harmonics? Energy?
LSD shifts the brain towards criticality?
What are the forces in the brain that keep it on the ‘order’ side of criticality? What happens if/when the brain passes over criticality into chaos? Is that where we see brain disorders or mental illness/disease?
Using your ‘Connectome Harmonics’ model, what kind of predictions can you make? Or, how else can that modeling be applied to consciousness as you defined it earlier?
You also observed the minds of meditators, right? What did you find there? Any similarities to psychedelics?
What did you learn from these observations? Any surprises?
Any significant differences between the two? Any significance in the differences?
You mentioned in a video that you use Cahart-Harris’ fMRI data. I laughed at ‘tripping in a scanner’. I don’t think when Timothy Leary coined ‘set and setting’ with LSD that he had going through a scanner in mind for the setting. Did anybody have a ‘bad trip’ during the experiments? If so, were any scans and observations made of these ‘bad trips’. I wonder if they crossed over criticality into chaos?
What’s in your future, what else will you be studying? [psychiatry, patients] Any implications of your studies, models, and theories?
Anything I haven’t asked you? Anything else you’d like to share or spread the word on?
My guest is Dr. Scott Husband of The University of Tampa. Dr. Husband’s primary field of study is behavioral 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.
How is the neural architecture of human brains both similar and different from other animal brains?
Do these similarities and differences have effects on consciousness? If so, how?
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)?
What can we say about brain structures and circuits and whether there is a certain requirement for consciousness?
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?
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?
How is that observed or measured? What have you identified in your own work?
Any special insight into the ‘hard question’ of consciousness given your studies of animals?
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?
What are some of your personal thoughts and opinions on consciousness in general given your studies? Where do you stand, philosophically, on consciousness?
What will you be working on in the future?
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.
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:
Let’s start off with your story: your meditation workshop, the Swami, and how it all played with your being a Neuroscientist.
After that experience, you spent time observing your own mind during meditation. What were you able to observe? What did you learn from that?
You mention that mantras help to quiet the mind, letting thoughts go, even opens the filters to the non-local consciousness.
First, What is non-local awareness or consciousness?
How does this relate to paranormal experiences like NDEs?
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?
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?
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?
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?]
You mention that, ‘All this is consciousness’ — can you expand on that?
How does it emerge in an individual, conscious being?
What about the ‘ego’? Thoughts on that? ‘Self’ is an illusion?
You’re a panpsychist? What does panpsychism mean to you — I hear a few different definitions.
You’re also an idealist, believing that the mind creates reality?
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?
Can we access this non-local awareness?
How does the brain filter this?
What’s available to us if we don’t filter it? Can we turn the filter off?
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.]
[given top-down design model] Does consciousness survive death? Does it change form, or does it persist?
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)
In your own studies and in the study of consciousness/awareness/meditation, what about future discoveries or advances excites you?