Category Archives: Consciousness

The voice in your head

Sophie McBain writes: Patsy Hage began hearing voices when she was eight years old. She was playing with her brother in the attic when her scarf caught alight on a candle. She would always remember running downstairs to her mother, her clothing on fire, convinced she was going to die. She was rushed to hospital… Read More »

Is consciousness everywhere?

Christof Koch writes: What is common between the delectable taste of a favorite food, the sharp sting of an infected tooth, the fullness after a heavy meal, the slow passage of time while waiting, the willing of a deliberate act, and the mixture of vitality, tinged with anxiety, just before a competitive event? All are… Read More »

The link between bioelectricity and consciousness

Tam Hunt writes: Life seems to be tied to bioelectricity at every level. The late electrophysiologist and surgeon Robert Becker spent decades researching the role of the body’s electric fields in development, wound healing, and limb regrowth. His 1985 book, The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life, was a fascinating deep dive into… Read More »

Ayahuasca helps traumatized war veterans rediscover their humanity

The New York Times reports: Before their first ayahuasca ceremony, the veterans met individually with two Peruvian “maestros,” or healers, from the Shipibo community in Peru. “Their hearts are hardened,” said Teobaldo Ochavano, who helps run the nighttime ceremonies alongside his wife, Marina Sinti. “They seemed unable to experience love or joy.” Ms. Sinti said… Read More »

Do we possess a transpersonal imagination?

John Horgan writes: I’m still mulling over a meeting I attended last month at Esalen, the spiritual retreat center, on “exceptional experiences” that challenge conventional science. More specifically, I’m mulling over imagination. What generates it, and what are its limits, if any? Is it sometimes more akin to revelation than invention? Imagination is arguably the… Read More »

Ram Dass 1931-2019

Douglas Martin writes: [Richard] Alpert went to India in 1967, more as a tourist than as a pilgrim. Events led him to a twinkly old man wrapped in a blanket: Neem Karoli Baba, who was called Maharajji, or great king, by his followers. Maharajji appeared to read Mr. Alpert’s mind by telling him, accurately, that… Read More »

Materialism alone cannot explain the riddle of consciousness

Adam Frank writes: Materialism holds the high ground these days in debates over that most ultimate of scientific questions: the nature of consciousness. When tackling the problem of mind and brain, many prominent researchers advocate for a universe fully reducible to matter. ‘Of course you are nothing but the activity of your neurons,’ they proclaim.… Read More »

Your brain chooses what to let you see

Jordana Cepelewicz writes: Last week, Quanta reported on the filtering mechanisms that allow us to focus our attention on stimuli of interest — that let us tune out the music in a room to listen to a nearby conversation, or disregard greens, blues and yellows in a crowd when searching for a friend wearing red.… Read More »

Consciousness doesn’t depend on language

Christof Koch writes: The contrast could not have been starker—here was one of the world’s most revered figures, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, expressing his belief that all life is sentient, while I, as a card-carrying neuroscientist, presented the contemporary Western consensus that some animals might, perhaps, possibly, share the precious gift of sentience,… Read More »