Meet the Experts:
Bernard Baars, Ph.D.
Pyschologist, Consciousness Theorist
Dr. Baars is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA., and is currently an Affiliated Fellow there. He is best known as the originator of the global workspace theory, a theory of human cognitive architecture and consciousness. He previously served as a professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where he conducted research into the causation of human errors and the Freudian slip, and as a faculty member at the Wright Institute. Baars co-founded the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and the Academic Press journal Consciousness & Cognition: An International Journal, which he also edited, with William P. Banks, for more than fifteen years.
Heather Berlin, PhD
Pyschologist, Science Communicator
Dr. Berlin conducts research to better understand the neural basis of impulsivity, compulsivity, and emotion with the goal of more targeted treatment. She employs neuroimaging and neuropsychological and psychopharmacological testing of brain lesion and compulsive, impulsive, and personality disorder patients. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness and dynamic unconscious processes. Dr. Berlin has conducted clinical research at hospitals in both the US and UK including Bellevue Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
Susan Blackmore, PhD
Pyschologist, Science Communicator
Dr. Blackmore is a freelance writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She has a degree in psychology and physiology from Oxford University an MSc and a PhD in parapsychology from the University of Surrey. She no longer works on the paranormal. Her research interests include memes, evolutionary theory, consciousness, and meditation. She practices Zen, campaigns for drug legalization and plays in her village samba band, Crooked Tempo.
Olaf Blanke, MD, PhD
Neurologist, Neuroprosthetics Expert
Dr. Blanke is Director of the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), holds the Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Cognitive Neuroprosthetics, and is Professor of Neurology at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Geneva University Hospital. In his research, he applies paradigms from cognitive science, neuroscience, neuroimaging, robotics, and virtual reality in healthy subjects and neurological patients to understand and control neural own body representations, to develop a neurobiological model of self-consciousness, and to apply these findings in the emerging field of cognitive neuroprosthetics and neurorehabilitation.
Ned Block, PhD
Philosopher of Mind, Consciousness Theorist
Dr. Block is a philosopher of mind who has made important contributions to matters of consciousness and cognitive science. He obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University under Hilary Putnam and was a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for many years, and now teaches at New York University (NYU). Block is noted for presenting the Blockhead argument against the Turing Test as a test of intelligence in a paper entitled Psychologism and Behaviourism (1981). He is also known for his criticism of functionalism, arguing that a system with the same functional states as a human is not necessarily conscious. In his more recent work on consciousness, he has made a distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness, where phenomenal consciousness consists of subjective experience and feelings and access consciousness consists of that information globally available in the cognitive system for the purposes of reasoning, speech and high-level action control.
Berit Brogaard, PhD
Philosopher, Expert in Savant Syndrome
Dr. Brogaard is a Danish and American philosopher specializing in the areas of cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Her recent work concerns synesthesia, savant syndrome, blindsight and perceptual reports. She is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and runs a perception lab at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She is the President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association. Brogaard is also a Danish-language poet and the author of three books, Transient Truths, On Romantic Love and The Superhuman Mind.
Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD
Dr. Carhart-Harris successfully coordinated the first clinical study of psilocybin in the UK and the first clinical study of a classic psychedelic drug in the UK in over 40 years. After being awarded an MA in Psychoanalysis at Brunel University, London, Carhart-Harris completed his PhD in psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol. In 2009, under the mentorship of Professor David Nutt, Carhart-Harris moved to Imperial College London to continue his fMRI research with the classic psychedelic drug psilocybin
Glenn Carruthers, Ph.D.
Philosopher, Bodily Consciousness Pathology
Dr. Carruthers is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders at Macquarie University where is leading a team testing theories of the Rubber Hand Illusion. He is also working on the possibility of distinguishing veridical reports of experience of the body from confabulations in pathologies such as anosognosia for hemiplegia and somatoparaphrenia, and the implications this has for theories of consciousness.
Patrick Cavanagh, Ph.D.
Neuroscientist, Vision Expert
Dr. Cavanagh leads the Centre Attention and Vision, Paris, France, and focuses on the visual cortex's predictive processing of vision, particularly saccades.
Daniel Dennett, Ph.D.
Philosopher, Consciousness Theorist
Dr. Dennett is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields related to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University.
Anna Dornhaus, Ph.D.
Evolutionary Biologist, Expert on Hive Decisions
Dr. Dornhaus holds a primary interest in the organization in groups, essentially monitoring how collective behaviors emerge from the actions and interactions of individuals. As model systems, she studies social insect colonies (bumble bees, honey bees and ants) in the laboratory and in the field. Also, she employs mathematical and individual-based modeling approaches. She investigates mechanisms of coordination in foraging, collective decision-making, task allocation and division of labor.
James Dow, Ph.D.
Philosopher, Philosophy of Mind
Dr. Dow’s areas of specialization are philosophy of mind, philosophical psychology and neurophilosophy. He writes about the nature of self-consciousness, social cognition, and joint engagement. His approach respects the history of philosophy, analysis of language, and interdisciplinary research in the cognitive sciences.
Bill Faw, Ph.D.
Dr. Faw is a professor emeritus in Experimental Psychology from Brewton-Parker College in Georgia. With a Master of Divinity from Harvard University, he served as a protestant minister during the first half of his career. In 1989, he received his PhD in General Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, and taught psychology for 25 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. His doctoral dissertation was on comparisons in hemispheric reaction-times in the matching of ‘unfamiliar faces’, ‘familiar faces’, and ‘own face’. His later research and publications were in various fields of consciousness, such as mental imagery abilities and memory and mental practice; the ‘pre-frontal executive committee of the brain’; types of consciousness concepts’ and brain mechanisms in emotion.
Walter J. Freeman, III, Ph.D.
Theoretical Neuroscientist, Philosopher
Dr. Freeman is an American biologist, theoretical neuroscientist and philosopher who has conducted pioneering research in how brains generate meaning. His main body of research has been on the perception of rabbits using electroencephalography. Based on a theoretical framework of neurodynamics that draws upon insights from chaos theory, he believes that the currency of brains is primarily meaning, and only secondarily information. In "Societies of Brains" and in other writings Freeman rejects the view that the brain uses representations to enable knowledge and behavior.
Itzhak Fried, Ph.D.
Neurosurgeon, Hippocampus Specialist
Dr. Fried is Professor In Residence and Director of the Epilepsy Surgery program, Neurology Dept., University of California, Los Angeles His research and clinical work are dedicated to the treatment of intractable seizure disorders and epilepsy. His specialization is on recording single neuron response to various stimuli.
Shaun Gallagher, Ph.D.
Philospher, Embodiment of Consciousness
Dr. Gallagher is an American philosopher known for his work on embodied and social cognition, agency and the philosophy of psychopathology. Since 2011 he has held the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis and was awarded the Anneliese Maier Research Award by the Humboldt Foundation. Since 2014 he has also been Professorial Fellow on the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He is Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, and Honorary Professor of Health Science at the University of Tromsø.
Rocco Gennaro, Ph.D.
Dr. Rocco J. Gennaro is the Philosophy Department Chairperson and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Indiana. His primary research and teaching interests are Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science (especially consciousness), Metaphysics, Early Modern History of Philosophy, and Applied Ethics. He has published eight books (as either sole author or editor) and over forty articles and book chapters in these areas. Dr. Gennaro has most recently published an anthology entitled Disturbed Consciousness: New Essays on Psychopathologies and Theories of Consciousness and authored The Consciousness Paradox: Consciousness, Concepts, and Higher-Order Thoughts. He is currently writing a book entitled Consciousness and editing an anthology entitled The Routledge Handbook of Consciousness. He is also the Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science area editor for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Philosopher, Higher Order Thought
Alison Gopnik, Ph.D.
Psychologist, Infant Development
Dr. Gopnik is an American professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She is known for her work in the areas of cognitive and language development, specializing in the effect of language on thought, the development of a theory of mind, and causal learning. Her writing on psychology and cognitive science has appeared in Science, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, New Scientist, Slate and others. Her body of work also includes four books and over 100 journal articles. She has frequently appeared on TV and radio including The Charlie Rose Show and The Colbert Report.
Michael Graziano, Ph.D.
Psychologist, Consciousness Theorist
Dr. Graziano is an American scientist and novelist who is currently a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness. He has proposed the "attention schema" theory, an explanation of how, and for what adaptive advantage, brains attribute the property of awareness to themselves. His previous work focused on how the cerebral cortex monitors the space around the body and controls movement within that space. Notably he has suggested that the classical map of the body in motor cortex, the homunculus, is not correct and is better described as a map of complex actions that make up the behavioral repertoire.
Demis Hassabis, Ph.D.
Chess Master, Game Designer, Neuroscientist
Dr. Hassabis is an artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist, computer game designer, and world-class gamer. A child prodigy in chess, Hassabis reached master standard at the age of 13. At 16 he began his computer games career at Bullfrog Productions, first level designing on Syndicate and then at 17 co-designing and lead programming on the classic game Theme Park, with the games designer Peter Molyneux. After running companies for several years, Hassabis returned to academia to obtain his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London in 2009 and continued his neuroscience and artificial intelligence research as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL where he has helped discover the simulational aspects of the hippocampus.
Russ Hurlburt, Ph.D.
Psychologist, Inner Experience Expert
Dr. Hurlburt is Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is widely recognized as being one of the foremost investigators of inner experience - namely thoughts, feelings, sensations, and so on - working today. He has researched inner experience subjects for more than forty years, developing many innovative methods and writing five books in the process – among them Investigating Pristine Inner Experience: Moments of Truth and Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic (with Eric Schwitzgebel).
Tony Jack, Ph.D.
Neuroimager, Brain Researcher
Dr. Jack has a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and extensive training in philosophy and neuroscience. He started out doing largely theoretical work on consciousness, but then got interested by the emerging field of brain imaging. Jack uses fMRI to study attention, consciousness and social processing in the brain.
David Kahn, Ph.D.
Physicist, Dream Specialist
Dr. Kahn received his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1962. His current interests are in understanding the ability of complex systems to self-organize. He has written and published on self-organizing systems; subjects include urban transportation, eusocial societies, embryonic development and the dreaming brain.
Andreas Keller, Ph.D.
Odor Consciousness Expert
Dr. Keller's area of expertise is on the conscious perception of odor. He is recognized for developing a high throughput odor sensitivity test.
Bob Kentridge, Ph.D.
Visual Consciousness and Attention Researcher
Dr. Kentridge studies the relationship between visual attention and visual consciousness, as well as the perception of the material properties of objects. He studies neuropathological patients to hypothesize where brain function is lost, and then tests those hypotheses on healthy subjects. He is Director of Research at the University of Durham, UK.
Steven Laureys, Ph.D.
Dr. Laureys leads the Coma Science Group at the Cyclotron Research Center, in Liège, Belgium. He is a clinical professor of neurology at the Liège University Hospital, and Research Director for the National Fund for Scientific Research. Laureys is chair of the World Federation of Neurology's subcommittee on Coma and Disorders of Consciousness.
Stephen Macknik, Ph.D.
Neuroscience of Magic, Science Communicator
Dr. Macknik is a neuroscientist and science writer. He is a professor of opthamology, neurology, and physiology and pharmacology at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, where he directs the Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience. He directed laboratories previously at the Barrow Neurological Institute and University College London. he is best known for his studies on illusions, consciousness, attentional misdirection in stage magic, and cerebral blood flow.
Bruce Mangan, Ph.D.
Failed war correspondent and actor, Dr. Mangan received an interdisciplanary PhD in Cognitive Sciences and Aesthetics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991. He has taught there since, in various capacities, inaugurating the Scientific Approaches to Consciousness course offered jointly by the Psychology and Cognitive Science departments. Mangan is oneof the founding members of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. His research investigates the interface mechanisms that weld conscious and non-conscious processes into a single cognitive system.
Jeffery Martin, Ph.D.
The Science of Enlightenment
Dr. Martin is a social scientist who researches personal transformation. He specializes in bringing rigorous empirical research and testing to transformational techniques and theories that have previously been supported anecdotally. Jeffery is a leading expert on persistent non-symbolic consciousness (enlightenment, nonduality, mystical experience, union with God/nature, etc.). A bestselling author and award winning educator, Jeffery has co-edited, authored, or co-authored over 20 books and numerous other publications; appeared in a wide variety of media; and lectured broadly in both academic and public forums. Dr. Martin is currently the director of the Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, and Director of the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University.
Thomas Metzinger, Ph.D.
Philosopher of Experience and Self
Dr. Metzinger is currently Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study (FIAS). He is also Director of the Neuroethics Research Unit in Mainz and Director of the MIND Group at the FIAS. His focus of research lies in analytical philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophical aspects of the neuro- and cognitive sciences, as well as in connections between ethics, philosophy of mind and anthropology.
Cynthia Moss, Ph.D.
Bat Perception Researcher
Dr. Moss’s research program investigates mechanisms of spatial perception, attention, learning and memory, coupled with adaptive motor behaviors, which enable successful navigation in complex 3-D environments. Their empirical studies exploit an animal model that provides explicit information about the signals used to guide behavior through its active sensing system. This animal model, the echolocating bat, coordinates its sonar transmissions with flight maneuvers in response to dynamic echo information, and exhibits a rich display of natural sensory-guided behaviors. Using the bat model system, they aim to deepen our understanding of scene perception, attention, decision-making, and sensorimotor integration in animals and humans.
Lynn Nadel, Ph.D.
Dr. Nadel is the Regents' Professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. Nadel specializes in memory, and has investigated the role of the hippocampus in memory formation. Together with John O'Keefe, he coauthored the influential 1978 book The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map, which defended the theory that the hippocampus learns and stores cognitive maps of portions of space. He later advanced the multiple trace theory, which posits that the hippocampus is always involved in storage and retrieval of episodic memory, but semantic memory can be established in the neocortex.
Kevin O'Regan, Ph.D.
Consciousness of Perception, A.I.
Dr. O'Regan is ex-director of the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception (CNRS) at the Université René Descartes in Paris. He is author of "Why red doesn’t sound like a bell : solving the mysteries of consciousness", in which he proposes a sensorimotor approach to solve the "hard" problem of phenomenal consciousness. His work led to the discovery of the phenomenon of change blindness. Currently he is developing applications of sensorimotor theory to sensory substitution, pain, color, infant development, and robotics.
Mary Peterson, Ph.D.
Neuroscience of Visual Perception
Dr. Peterson uses behavioral, psychological and imaging methods in normal and brain-damaged individuals to examine the complex processes involved in visual perception of objects, faces and scenes.
Simon Piemer, Ph.D.
Consciousness and Sleep
Dr. Piemer is Director of the Berkshire Sleep Disorders Center. His focus is on parasomnias, slow-wave sleep and the connection between sleeping and waking consciousness.
Jesse Prinz, Ph.D.
Philosophy of Morality and Consciousness
Dr. Prinz is a Distinguished Professor of philosophy and director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. Prinz works primarily in the philosophy of psychology and ethics and has authored several books and over 100 articles, addressing such topics as emotion, moral psychology, aesthetics and consciousness. Much of his work in these areas has been a defense of empiricism against psychological nativism, and he situates his work as in the naturalistic tradition of philosophy associated with David Hume.
Pat Sharp, Ph.D.
Neurobiology of Buddhist Meditation
Dr. Sharp is a neurophysiologist with 30+ years working on the neurobiology of cognition. More recently, however, she has undergone a major shift in emphasis. Specifically, she is interested in the neurobiology of Buddhist meditation. Based on careful reading of Buddhist texts, along with her and others' experience with meditation practice, she is developing a neural network theory for how the brain changes during, and as a result of, Buddhist meditation and practice.
Jonathan Shear, Ph.D.
Philosophy of Meditation
Dr. Shear is Affiliated Associate Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has taught since 1987. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow there, and a Fulbright Scholar in philosophy of science at the London School of Economics. Since the early 1960s his work has focused on the use of meditation practices and related scientific research to expand our knowledge of human consciousness. He has published and lectured widely in North America, Europe and Asia, and was the founding Managing Editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.
Asael Sklar, Ph.D.
A Ph.D. student, Sklar’s main interest is the (possibly non-existent) functional role conscious awareness plays in human cognition. As he has (as of yet) failed in finding anything that seems to hold as an a priori candidate for this alleged role, he is pursuing two different research paths. His first pursuit is to prove that certain things, such as arithmetic, can be done without conscious awareness. Secondly, he is trying to generate empirical data on the phenomenon of conscious awareness, primarily finding out which cognitive events we become consciously aware of and why. He has not given up on getting back to his original question yet.
David Woodruff Smith, Ph.D.
Phenomenology of Experience
Dr. Smith is a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, focusing on phenomenology. He is author of "Husserl" and "Mind World".
Neil Theise, M.D.
Complexity Theorist, Panpsychist
Dr. Theise is a diagnostic liver pathologist and adult stem cell researcher in New York City, where he is Professor of Pathology and of Medicine at the Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His research revised understandings of human liver microanatomy which, in turn, led directly to identification of possible liver stem cell niches and the marrow-to-liver regeneration pathway. He is considered a pioneer of multi-organ adult stem cell plasticity and has published on that topic in Science, Nature, and Cell.
Jennifer Windt, Ph.D.
Philosophy of Dreaming and Hallucination
Dr. Windt is a Lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She is author of “Are Dreams Disembodied Experiences?” and “Dreaming - A Conceptual Framework for Philosophy of Mind and Empirical Research”.