Announcement & Call for Abstracts
TSC 2024 April 22-27 Tucson
We are pleased to announce the 30th annual conference ‘The Science of Consciousness’ (‘TSC’), April 22-27, 2024 at the beautiful Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in the hills above Tucson, Arizona. The conference is hosted and sponsored by the University of Arizona, Center for Consciousness Studies and co-sponsored by the University of Michigan, Center for Consciousness Science.
We invite and welcome abstract submissions and workshop proposals.
2024 TSC Conference Themes
Cortical Oscillations and Traveling Waves - Psychedelics and Psychoplastogens - Astrobiology and Astroconsciousness -Dual Aspect Monism - Megahertz EEG and DoDecoGraphy (DDG) - Theories of Consciousness - Consciousness and Reality -Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Consciousness - Monitoring Consciousness in Altered States - Searching for Consciousness in Cerebral Organoids - Brain Symmetry - Microtubule Time Crystals – Virtual Reality Experience
Earl K Miller - Susan Schneider - Dante Lauretta - Anirban Bandyopadhyay
Tanya Luhrmann - Donald Hoffman - Steven Laureys - Brian Muraresku - George Mashour - Sir Roger Penrose - Caleb Scharf - Hartmut Neven - Pieter-Jan Maes - Deepak Chopra - Stuart Hameroff - Harald Atmanspacher - Dinesh Pal - Alysson Muotri - Christof Koch - Dean Rickles - David Chalmers - Santosh A. Helekar - Bill Seager - Zirui Huang - Aaron Schurger - Dimitris Pinotsis - Andre Bastos - Pulin Gong - Paavo Pylkkanen - Giulio Tononi - Claudia Passos
History and Overview
The 1994 TSC conference was the world’s first interdisciplinary gathering devoted to the study of consciousness. Prominent speakers addressed a packed auditorium at the University of Arizona hospital in Tucson, but it was then-unknown philosopher David Chalmers who captured the moment, describing the now-famous ‘hard problem’ of phenomenal conscious experience, distinguishing it from relatively easy problems like attention, memory and behavior. Bernard Baars presented his Global Workspace theory, Ben Libet described the timing of conscious experience, and Christof Koch argued that consciousness emerged from complex computation among simple brain neurons, signaling only via membrane surfaces and synapses. Stuart Hameroff discussed how microtubules inside neurons could help account for consciousness, and Roger Penrose spoke about consciousness as something other than computation, requiring a quantum connection to the most basic level of the universe. These views have echoed for 30 years. Most continue to see consciousness as described by Baars, Koch and many others, an emergent property of complex computation among simple brain neurons, promoting the notion that AI will be conscious. But some consider consciousness a fundamental feature of the universe, e.g. subtly connected to the brain through quantum vibrations in microtubules inside neurons, as suggested by Penrose and Hameroff. Some consider consciousness to be an illusion, others believe reality to be the illusion.
Despite disparate views, we’ve learned a lot in 30 years, and have a lot more ahead.
Themes, speakers and sessions at the upcoming conference will include:
Cortical Oscillations and Traveling Waves
Prevalent neurocomputational theories (Global Neuronal Workspace ‘GNW’, Integrated Information Theory ‘IIT’, Higher Order Theory ‘HOT’ and Predictive Coding/Recurrent Processing ‘PC/RP’) all converge on consciousness correlating with frontal ‘top-down’ cortical feedback, selectively inhibited by anesthesia.
Professor Earl K Miller’s lab at MIT has shown cortical feedback to be oscillatory traveling waves which inhibit feed-forward sensory inputs which are predicted and recognized (Predictive Coding). But cortical feedback does not inhibit novel, or ‘oddball’ feed-forward inputs which can then become conscious. Earl Miller will give a Keynote talk, and with other plenary speakers delve deeply into the role of cortical oscillatory traveling waves in consciousness.
Psychedelics and Psychoplastogens
The topic of psychedelics has grown significantly in society, medicine and academic discourse. Psychedelics are also ‘psychoplastogens,’ causing neurite sprouting, neuronal growth and synaptic formation through cytoskeletal activities, and they bind and may act on 5HT2A receptors inside neurons as well as on surface membranes. Clinical trials of psychedelics in medicine and psychiatry, and their use in personal and spiritual development, have been favorable, and we now know psychedelics have been used in nearly all cultures for millennia. Author Brian Muraresku (‘The Immortality Key’) will speak on the role of psychedelics in the origins and development of ancient and contemporary religions and rituals, e.g. the ‘Last Supper’. Stanford Anthropology professor Tanya Luhrmann (‘When God Talks Back’) will discuss the history of psychedelics and other states of consciousness including ‘hearing voices’, and cultural aspects of psychosis and dissociation.
Astrobiology and Astroconsciousness
Thus far consciousness is recognized only in living systems, but life’s nature and origin remain unknown. We do know that organic, aromatic hydrocarbon ring molecules are essential as core components in biological lipid membranes, nucleic acids and proteins, and also comprise psychedelics and most psychoactive neurotransmitter molecules. Organic rings may be essential to life and consciousness because their delocalized electron ‘pi resonance’ clouds support quantum coherence, and form quantum-friendly ‘decoherence-free’ subspaces, protected within a ‘quantum underground’ deep within biomolecules. Organic rings are also implicated in ‘origin of life’ scenarios both in ‘Primordial soup’ hypotheses on earth, and/or from extraterrestrial sources. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) pervade interstellar dust, are formed by stars, float in space and atmospheres, and are found in meteorites which crash on earth. NASA’s OSIRIS REx probe, led by University of Arizona Planetary scientist and conference Keynote speaker Dante Lauretta, recently returned from the asteroid Bennu with carbonaceous material whose PAHs will be analyzed using quantum optical and pharmacological tests, and results compared with those of biomolecules.
Dual Aspect Monism is a philosophical position framing consciousness and its relation to the physical by considering the mental and the physical as two aspects of one underlying reality which is neither mental nor physical. In Western history, dual aspect monism goes back to Spinoza, but has links to Platonic thinking and even to Eastern spirituality (such as non-duality). In the 20th century it was revitalized by foundational work in quantum physics and depth psychology, as outlined by Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Gustav Jung, Arthur Eddington, John Wheeler, David Bohm, and Basil Hiley. Harald Atmanspacher will speak and lead discussion.
Megahertz EEG (‘Dodecography’)
Electroencephalography (EEG) celebrates its 100 yearanniversary in 2024. Recording brain electrical signals from the scalp in frequency bands up to 100 hertz (‘Hz’), EEG is very useful, but the origin and overall relation of EEG to consciousness and brain function remain mysterious, there being no ‘unified theory’ of EEG. However, over the past 15 years Anirban Bandyopadhyay has used nanotechnology to study cytoskeletal microtubules inside neurons and has found oscillations and conductances in self-similar resonance patterns (‘triplets-of-triplets’) which repeat in hertz, kilohertz, megahertz, gigahertz and terahertz, every 3 orders of magnitude over 12 orders. At a larger scale of neuronal networks, Anirban’s team has used dielectric resonance probe arrays to map spontaneous megahertz and gigahertz excitations inside neurons. Recently megahertz and gigahertz oscillations with triplet patterns (DDG) have been detected from the scalp in humans. Conventional EEG may actually be interference ‘beats’ of faster DDG oscillations in microtubules. At the conference, Anirban Bandyopadhyay will discuss and demonstrate DDG, a new unified model of EEG.
Theories of Consciousness
Theories of consciousness have persisted and consolidated since 1994. Baars’ ‘Global Workspace’ became Dehaene and Changeux’s more anatomical ‘Global Neuronal Workspace’ (‘GNW’), and Rosenthal and Lau popularized ‘Higher Order Theory’ (‘HOT’), frontal ‘top-down’ cortical projections. Integrated Information Theory (‘IIT’) by Tononi and Koch emphasized optimal information integration, characterized by the term ‘Phi’. Championed by prominent authorities, IIT became ‘the leading theory’, but was critically characterized as ‘pseudoscience’. Another theory, Predictive Coding/Recurrent Processing (PC/RP) by Lamme, Friston and others suggest the brain continually compares its models of the world to sensory inputs, inhibiting those which match prediction, and enabling consciousness of novel or ‘oddball’ inputs which don’t. Operating at multiple smaller, faster, quantum scales inside neurons, the Orch OR theory (orchestrated objective reduction) by Penrose and Hameroff suggests microtubules inside neurons ‘orchestrate’ quantum vibrations which enable sequences of Penrose objective reduction (OR), and moments of conscious experience. How to decide? Cognitive neuroscientist Aaron Schurger is co-authoring a book about theories of consciousness and will present his objective overview and comparison of a dozen theories. A panel discussion among proponents of different theories will be chaired by Paavo Pylkkanen.
Consciousness and Reality
Is consciousness an illusion, as many neuroscientists say? Or is external reality the illusion, as Eastern philosophers and others contend? In this session a neuroscientific view of consciousness as illusory will be presented. Then Donald Hoffman will discuss ‘conscious realism’, in which reality consists of conscious agents interfacing with illusory reality, like icons in a computer game. Hoffman and colleagues claim this ‘conscious realism’ extends outside spacetime in a complex amplituhedron geometry. Deepak Chopra will give the traditional view from ancient Eastern philosophy that an all-encompassing consciousness is our reality, and that the material world is illusion.
Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing rapidly. Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT seem conceivably conscious, and most theories of consciousness are purely computational. Meanwhile, AI technology promises upgrades in cognitive function and consciousness through implants, interfaces and other technologies. Philosopher Susan Schneider, Director of the Center for the Future Mind at Florida Atlantic University, former Astrobiology Chair at NASA and author of ‘Artificial You: AI and the Future of the Mind’ will be Keynote Speaker at the conference, discussing Mind Design, Global Brain and AI Megastructures.
Monitoring Consciousness in Altered States
Much can be learned from extremes of consciousness. Steven Laureys is a clinical neurologist and world authority in the care of brain-damaged patients with altered states of consciousness, ranging from fully unconscious coma to fully aware, but ‘locked-in’ syndromes. He and his colleagues employ PET, fMRI and structural MRI, EEG, ERP with clinical signs, verbal and TMS stimulation to find conscious awareness. In recent years Laureys has used these same techniques to study consciousness in enhanced meditative states and is the author of ‘The no-nonsense meditation book’. Also, Santosh Helekar will describe his ‘sentiometer’ which uses a version of the double slit experiment to purportedly detect consciousness.
Searching for Consciousness in Cerebral Organoids
Cerebral organoids are artificially grown miniature organs resembling the brain. Cultured from pluripotent stem cells and developing over months in a rotating bioreactor, cerebral organoids generate measurable EEG-like behavior, comparable to a pre-term infant. UCSD’s Alysson Muotri discovered different EEG-like frequency bands in organoids could phase couple, and Alysson will speak about effects of anesthesia and psychedelics on organoid ‘EEG’.
Hartmut Neven from Google Quantum AI will discuss a project looking for quantum spin and entanglement in cerebral organoids. Xenon is an inert gas anesthetic with several isotopes, e.g. differing by spin 1/2. Previous work showed that xenon with ½ spin was a significantly weaker anesthetic, e.g. determined by mice righting reflex, than xenon without spin 1/2. This was taken to imply that nuclear spin ½ promoted or increased consciousness, possibly by increasing entanglement, and thus partially antagonized the xenon anesthetic effect. Hartmut’s group will look at effects of xenon isotopes on EEG-like activity in organoids as evidence for quantum spin and entanglement in the brain, and possible future interfacing between brain and quantum computer.
30th Annual TSC - April 22-27, 2024
MONDAY April 22, 2024 - full day of Workshops
TUESDAY, April 23, 2024
7:00-7:45 am Deepak Chopra
Plenary Opening – Kiva Ballroom
PL 1 - 8:30 am to 10:40 am
PL 2 - 11:10 am to 12:30 pm
PL 3 - 2:00 pm to 4:10 pm
Concurrents 1-8 - 5:00pm to 7:00 pm
Reception - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
WEDNESDAY April 24, 2024
PL 4 - 8:30 am to 10:40 am
PL 5 - 11:10 am to 12:30 pm
PL 6 - 2:00 pm to 4:10 pm
Concurrents 9-16 -5:00pm to 7:00 pm
Posters, Exhibitors 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
THURSDAY April 25, 2024
PL - 7 - 8:30 am to 10:40 am
PL - 8 - 11:10 am to 12:30 pm
PL - 9 - 2:00 pm to 4:10 pm
Optional Dinner 6:00-9:00 pm
FRIDAY, April 26, 2024
PL - 10 - 8:30 am to 10:40 am
PL - 11 - 11:10 am to 12:30 pm
PL - 12 - 2:00 pm to 4:10 pm
Concurrents 17-24 - 5:00 to 7:00 pm
Posters, Exhibitors 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
SATURDAY, April 27, 2024
PL - 13 - 9:00 am to 10:30 am
PL - 14 - 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
W/Th/Fri - Tenniscentric - Early mornings 7-8
1. ABSTRACTS - Submissions - Deadline: December 31 - General Abstracts: no more than 500 words.
WORKSHOP Submissions – please email proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org Include names and short bios of all presenters and a brief description of the workshop description.
LOEWS Ventana Canyon Resort - Tucson (Room Block closes March 29) - Group Rates Available: April 17 through May 1, 2024 $169 per night. The Resort Fee has been WAIVED for this Group.
Early Reg: Standard $550; Student: $450 -Optional Thursday Dinner $95 - Remote attendance for Plenary Sessions - $250Registration includes Workshops, Tuesday evening Welcome Reception, Poster & Exhibitor receptions and End of Consciousness Party (Wed & Fri)
Activities and Social Events - TSC 2024
TSC 2024 will include plenary sessions, in-depth workshops, concurrent presentations, poster sessions, book and technology exhibits, health & wellness exhibitors, tenniscentric. Welcome Reception (Tues), Dinner (Thurs optional), Poetry Slam (Fri).
Table Space Non-Profits $1000
Table Space General $1500
The Science of Consciousness Conferences | since 1994
Center for Consciousness Studies, UArizona
The Science of Consciousness (TSC) conferences are the pre-eminent world gatherings on all approaches to the profound and fundamental question of how the brain produces conscious experience, a question which addresses who we are, the nature of reality and our place in the universe. TSC conferences have been held in Tucson since 1994, (every 2 years) and are recognized around the world. TSC International held its first conference in 1995 and continues in alternate years. TSC Conference is the world's largest, longest running and premier interdisciplinary conference addressing the fundamental questions regarding consciousness, the brain, reality and existence, organized by the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona.
TSC Tucson is a 5-day gathering consisting of 4 Keynote Speakers, 26 Plenary presenters, 12 plenary sessions, 14 Concurrent Sessions, Poster and Exhibitor presentations, 10 workshops, Welcome Reception, Exhibitor receptions, Social and Wellness events. We anticipate that this conference will bring in over 400 scientists, philosophers, educations, academicians, students, meditators, artists and interested public and seekers from around the world.
We will have livestream available of the Plenary Sessions for a considerably reduced registration option. To be announced.
VIDEO ARCHIVE: WATCH TSC YOUTUBE CHANNEL.