Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference 2004: interest, questions?


by hypnagogue
Tags: 2004, conference, consciousness, science
hypnagogue
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#1
Mar31-04, 11:06 AM
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As some of you may know already, I am going to attend the Towards a Science of Consciousness 2004 conference this year from April 7-11 in Tuscon, Arizona. (More information here.)

I was already planning on posting a documentation of my visit there once I got back, but a question asked to me by Canute gave me another idea. In another thread Canute asked me to ask something of Roger Penrose if he were giving a plenary session this year. Well, Roger Penrose isn't going to be at this year's conference (or at least, he won't be presenting anything), but the general idea behind Canute's question struck me as a good one. Why not let the members at PF who are interested in contemporary issues in consciousness attend the conference vicariously through me?

What I am proposing is that members curious about certain issues on consciousness pass on their questions to me, and I will in turn do my best to keep track of answers provided at the conference. (Of course I was already planning on soaking up as much information as possible, but in this case I could try to pay special attention to specific questions / issues.) This could include asking questions about general progress / modern theories of some specific issue, or questions posed to particular individuals in the field. Of course the former would be easier to do than the latter, but in any case I would do my best.

For now I am trying to gauge interest in this idea more than anything else. Keep in mind that I will be posting about my trip either way; this proposal only differs insofar as I will pay special attention to any questions raised as I am attending the conference. If sufficient interest is shown I will post a detailed itinerary of the lectures and workshops I will be attending, which in turn should help members form specific questions to pass on to me. So, what do you think?
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Rader
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Mar31-04, 05:36 PM
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hypnagogue, that was honorable of you, to think of us. I see there is a conference on Sunday the 11th of April, on "Is there metacognition in animals"
I would like to know where the lastest study of dolphins has taken us. Can dolphins recognize there image in a mirror? Will there be a pdf file on all the workshop sessions later?
Ivan Seeking
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#3
Mar31-04, 07:08 PM
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Yes. Thanks, it is very generous of you to offer.

First, I would like to know of any rebuttle, confirmation, supporting information or refutation of this:

http://www.datadiwan.de/SciMedNet/li...Parnia_nde.htm

Near Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest and the Mystery of Consciousness

Sam Parnia, Southampton, England

.... Due to the lack of brain function in these circumstances, therefore, one would not expect there to be any lucid, well-structured thought processes, with reasoning and memory formation, which are characteristic of NDEs....

Nereid
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#4
Mar31-04, 08:02 PM
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Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference 2004: interest, questions?


My thanks too for your kind offer.

If you have been previous "Tucson(s)", perhaps you could reflect on how you see various strands developing - better sense of a program, some stuck, others racing ahead breathlessly, ... It may be better to do this some time after you've returned, so as to not be carried away by the on-site buzz
Polly
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#5
Mar31-04, 09:04 PM
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Hypagogue that is very kind of you and I thank you. I don't have any special request for the time being, but take more pictures (and make sure that they are posted on line)! Hee hee.
hypnagogue
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#6
Apr1-04, 08:05 AM
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Thanks everyone for your kind words. It's only my pleasure to share this wealth of information and ideas with everyone here to the fullest extent possible.

Here's a detailed list of the specific workshops and lectures I plan to attend, which may help you in picking out certain issues you're especially interested in.

The plenary sessions are the 'featured' lectures, whereas one must choose among a number of simultaneously occuring alternatives for the workshops and concurrent sessions. This is a bit unfortunate as there is a lot of interesting stuff going on-- for instance one has to pick a maximum of 3 out of 21 available concurrent sessions! For this reason the concurrent sessions listed are not written in stone-- I may choose to attend different ones at the last moment. (For anyone interested, a full list of concurrent sessions with abstracts is available here.)

Workshop 1
Observing the Mind, Part 1: Basic Training in Skillful Means
(Charles T. Tart)

Workshop 2
Observing the Mind, Part 2: Mindfulness in Everyday Life
(Charles T. Tart)

Workshop 3
What does science know about extra-ordinary states of consciousness?
(Katharine McGovern, Bernard Baars, Stanley Krippner, and Frank Echelhofer)

Plenary session 1
WHAT ARE THE NEURAL CORRELATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS?

* Stephen Macknik, Dichoptic Visual Masking and Visual Awareness
* Christof Koch, A Neurobiological Framework for Consciousness
* David Leopold, Neural Correlates of Induced Visual Suppression

Plenary session 2
WHAT IS THE PHYSICAL BASIS OF CONSCIOUSNESS?

* Jack Pettigrew, Exploring Consciousness Using Perceptual Rivalry, with a New Proposal Linking the Physics and Biology of Gravity
* Andrew Matus, Does the Cytoskeleton Contribute to Consciousness?

Plenary session 3
SYNESTHESIA AND NEURAL PLASTICITY: IMPLICATIONS FOR A THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

* Ned Block, Functionalism, Physicalism and Neural Plasticity
* Alva Noe, What Does Synesthesia Teach Us About the Neural Basis of Consciousness?

Plenary session 4
HOW DO HALLUCINOGENS AFFECT CONSCIOUSNESS?

* Alexander Shulgin, Hallucinogens and Consciousness
* Franz X. Vollenweider, Brain Mechanisms of Hallucinogens
* Thomas Ray, The Chemical Architecture of the Human Mind: Probing Receptor Space with Psychedelics
4:30pm-6:35pm

Plenary session 5
IS CONSCIOUS WILL AN ILLUSION?

* Daniel Wegner, Conscious Will: The Body’s Way of Knowing What the Mind is Doing
* Terry Horgan, Conscious Will Is No Ilusion
* Roy Baumeister, Creativity, Consciousness, and Free Will: Experimental Findings

Plenary session 6
KEY NOTE ADDRESS

* Zoltan Torey, Consciousness, the View from Within

Plenary session 7
IS THERE ATTENTION OUTSIDE AWARENESS?

* Victor Lamme, Separate Neural Definitions of Conscious Vision and Attention; a Case for Phenomenal Awareness
* Ronald Rensink, The Problem of Awareness and Attention: Not Enough Awareness of Attention & Not Enough Attention to Awarenesss
* Guven Guzeldere, Attention and the Phenomenal Character of Visual Perception

Plenary session 8
KEY NOTE ADDRESS

* Steven Pinker, Is Consciousness an Evolutionary Adaptation?

Plenary session 9
ETHICS AND THE BRAIN

* Martha Farah, From the Decade of the Brain to the Neuroscience Century: Neuroethical Issues in Our Future
* Joshua Greene, Cognitive Conflict and Control in Moral Judgment
* Deborah Denno, A Mind to Blame: Exploring the Link between Crime and Consciousness

Plenary session 10
IS THERE META COGNITION IN ANIMALS?

* Wendy Shields, Standards of Evidence in the Examination of Animal Metacognition
* Janet Metcalfe, Metacognition and the Emergence of Self-Reflective Consciousness
* Peter Carruthers, Two Models of Meta-Cognition

Plenary session 11
KEY NOTE ADDRESS

* Daniel Dennett, Qualia Questioned: Once More With Feeling

Plenary session 12
TENTH ANNIVERSARY SESSION: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

Concurrent session 7
FIRST-PERSON APPROACHES

* Jack Petranker, First-person Methodology without the First Person: the Case of the Absent-Minded Self
* Anthony Freeman, A Daniel Come to Judgement? Using Dennett to Test the Limits of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory
* Russell Hurlburt, Bracketing Presuppositions in First- And Second-Person Explorations of Inner Experience
* Christopher Heavey, Exploring the Experience of Depression with Descriptive Experience Sampling
* John Barresi, From “Nobody Nowhere” to “Somebody Somewhere”: A case study in the phenomenology of autism and of the discovery of the interpersonal world

Concurrent session 9
SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND INTROSPECTION

* William Robinson, Knowing Epiphenomena
* Eric Schwitzgebel, What Is Introspection?
* John Bengson, Introspection and the Study of Consciousness: From Inner Perception to Attention
* Jerry Yang, Proprietary Nonepistemic Self-Awareness: A Naturalistic Account of Privileged Access
* Jessica Brown, Discrimination and Knowledge of One's Own Thoughts

Concurrent session 19
HALLUCINOGENS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

* Marcelo Mercante, Consciousness, Involuntary Mental Imagery, and Healing: The Role of Visions Experienced During the Trance Induced By the Use of Ayahuasca
* Olivia Carter, Probing the Pharmacological Basis of Binocular Rivalry with the Hallucinogenic 5-Ht1a/2a Agonist Psilocybin
* Karl, L.R. Jansen, What Can Ketamine Teach Us About Ordinary and Altered States of Consciousness?
* Michael Winkelman, The Nature of Consciousness from Perspectives of Psychoactive Drugs: Psychointegration
* Todd Bresnick, The Impact of Ayahuasca Ingestion on Shifts in Spatial and Temporal Phenomenal Experiences Associated With Fringe Consciousness
hypnagogue
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Apr1-04, 08:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Rader
hypnagogue, that was honorable of you, to think of us. I see there is a conference on Sunday the 11th of April, on "Is there metacognition in animals"
I would like to know where the lastest study of dolphins has taken us. Can dolphins recognize there image in a mirror?
OK, I will try special attention to this lecture. For now though, I can tell you off the top of my head for a fact that dolphins can recognize their images in a mirror (or at least their behavior in front of a mirror strongly indicates this).

Will there be a pdf file on all the workshop sessions later?
I inquired about this, and the response was that the availability of written summaries of the workshops depends on the instructors involved. I will try to collect as much written information from the sessions as is available, including information from sessions / workshops I can't attend, if possible.
hypnagogue
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#8
Apr1-04, 08:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking
Yes. Thanks, it is very generous of you to offer.

First, I would like to know of any rebuttle, confirmation, supporting information or refutation of this:

http://www.datadiwan.de/SciMedNet/li...Parnia_nde.htm
I will keep an eye out, although there are no sessions that deal with NDEs explicitly. One passing remark I can make is that EEG readings only record neural activity on the surface of the brain, so a flat EEG reading is still consistent with neural activity occurring below the cortical surface (and perhaps even with sufficiently reduced, but still existent, neural activity on the surface).

The presentation I have targeted for this issue is one titled 'What Can Ketamine Teach Us About Ordinary and Altered States of Consciousness?' in the concurrent session 'Hallucinogens and Consciousness.' Here is the abstract, which promises the lecture to be enlightening on the physiological basis of NDEs:

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic with powerful hallucinogenic and psychedelic properties, including out-of-body experiences, transcendence of time, an extension of awareness beyond consensus reality into other universes, and other effects. Ketamine can produce every feature of a near-death experience (NDE) (Jansen 2001), including the conviction that one has died, awareness leaving the body, ringing/buzzing/ whistling sounds followed by travel through a tunnel at high speed, emerging into light, communion with God, and a life review.
Because we know how ketamine acts in the brain, this provides us with an understanding of how NDE’s arise. Ketamine blocks ion channels attached to NMDA receptors, and causes a blockage so that salts cannot enter the cell. The neurotransmitter glutamate crosses the gap between cells and binds to NMDA receptors, turning the chemical key which should allow ions to enter the cell. However, while the tunnel is blocked by ketamine, this is not possible.

NDE’s also involve blockade of NMDA receptors. A sudden fall in O2 or blood sugar, a rise in CO2 (e.g. during a heart attack), and other factors cause a flood release of glutamate. This over-excites cells which die. This is called ‘excito-toxicity’. The glutamate flood also activates apoptotic genes which trigger the cell to commit suicide. Ketamine can prevent this brain damage via the same mechanism which is important to its psychedelic effects: blockade of channels so that ‘the ion sea’ cannot rush into the cells. This led to the prediction that the brain would have its own, natural protective mechanisms against the glutamate flood (Jansen 2001). There would be a huge evolutionary advantage in the development of a protective mechanism involving a counter-flood of natural NMDA receptor-complex blockers, producing ketamine-like NDE effects. While a person is having an NDE at the psychological level, the brain is thus protecting itself from excito-toxic damage. Natural blockers include NAAG (N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate), magnesium and kynurenic acid, all of which protect cells from excito-toxic damage.
People deprived of oxygen for long periods, e.g. after a heart attack, and who report NDE’s, sometimes survive with unimpaired brains. This lack of damage may result from an inherited mechanism for blocking over-excitation. Thus people who can have an NDE may be less likely to suffer brain damage. These may be the same group who report psychedelic experiences with ketamine. Dreams, ketamine ‘journeys’ and NDE’s are all states in which there is a dramatically reduced sensory input from the outside world. Those who do not recall dreams also do not recall ketamine ‘journeys’. The % who recall dreams is about the same as the % reporting ‘emergence phenomena’ after ketamine: about 40%, which is the % of the population who have had some kind of NDE. Genetic differences may be responsible, expressing themselves as different forms of NMDA receptors.

Ref: Jansen KLR (2001a) Ketamine: Dreams and Realities. Sarasota, Florida: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (ISBN 0-9660019-3-1) (Available from www.maps.org).
hypnagogue
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#9
Apr1-04, 08:39 AM
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Quote Quote by Nereid
My thanks too for your kind offer.

If you have been previous "Tucson(s)", perhaps you could reflect on how you see various strands developing - better sense of a program, some stuck, others racing ahead breathlessly, ... It may be better to do this some time after you've returned, so as to not be carried away by the on-site buzz
I haven't been to previous Tuscon conferences, but I am sure within this conference itself varying strands of theoretical thought (possibly competing, possibly converging) will emerge.

As one may notice from the workshops and concurrent sessions I have chosen, I am particularly interested in the subjective, first person side of things, which is the main source of conceptual difficulties surrounding consciousness (issues such as priveleged subjective access to phenomenal states and so on). I hope to get a clearer picture of the current scientific and philosophical positions on this issue, and I will be particularly interested to see if any convergent themes from different conceptual foundations regarding this issue emerge from the discussion.

Also, the closing plenary session 'Tenth Anniversary Session: Looking Back, Looking Forward' may be particularly enlightening with respect to your inquiry.
hypnagogue
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#10
Apr1-04, 08:53 AM
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Quote Quote by Polly
Hypagogue that is very kind of you and I thank you. I don't have any special request for the time being, but take more pictures (and make sure that they are posted on line)! Hee hee.
Heheh, well if I can get a photo op with David Chalmers I'll surely jump at it.
Jeebus
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#11
Apr1-04, 03:07 PM
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I was reading through and I just noticed that Chalmers isn't going to give any speeches or tutorials in the conference?
hypnagogue
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Apr1-04, 04:16 PM
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Quote Quote by Jeebus
I was reading through and I just noticed that Chalmers isn't going to give any speeches or tutorials in the conference?
Not that I know of, although he may speak in the final plenary session. I don't know why-- maybe he is too busy or maybe he has nothing fundamentally new to say at this point. However he is the director of Arizona University's Center for Consciousness Studies, which is supporting / hosting the conference, so if nothing else I imagine he played a major role in organizing the conference. And of course, I fully expect him to be attending the conference whether he speaks publically or not.
loseyourname
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#13
Apr2-04, 10:31 PM
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Hypnagogue, will there be any discussion of OBE's?
hypnagogue
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Apr2-04, 11:10 PM
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Quote Quote by loseyourname
Hypnagogue, will there be any discussion of OBE's?
There will be no discussion whose primary focus is OBEs, but the purported physiological basis of such experiences will be explored by way of analogy to the physiological effects of the drug ketamine. See my reply to Ivan Seeking (post #8 in this thread).
loseyourname
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#15
Apr2-04, 11:20 PM
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That isn't really what I meant, but thanks. There are reported instances of observed OBE's; that is, a person projected his/her consciousness toward a target of some sort that was able to perceive this disassociated "ghost" or whatever you want to call it. Some people with reported OBE's have even been able to describe aspects of a location they projected themselves into that were not known to any other person, seemingly ruling out clairvoyance. I was wondering if there would be any discussion of that, but I guess not.
hypnagogue
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#16
Apr2-04, 11:35 PM
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Thanks for clarifying. You would probably be most interested in the 'Nonlocal and Paranormal Effects' concurrent session (you can read the abstracts here). Unfortunately I most probably will be attending a different concurrent session, but I will collect any written material on this if possible.
Canute
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#17
Apr4-04, 06:43 AM
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Could you take a sounding on the unfalsifiablity of Idealism and what this implies for our ability to explain consciousness in terms of brain.


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