The Science of Consciousness Conference


The study of human consciousness is one of science's last great frontiers.

The Science of Consciousness (TSC) is an interdisciplinary conference emphasizing broad and rigorous approaches to all aspects of the study and understanding of conscious awareness. Topical areas include neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, biology, quantum physics, meditation and altered states, machine consciousness, culture and experiential phenomenology. 


In 1994, the first TSC Consciousness conference  "Toward a Science of Consciousness" -  now known  as  TSC - "The Science of Consciousness" was held in Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona Medical Center.  TSC-1994 is widely regarded as a landmark event, and the subsequent series of biennial conferences in Tucson and alternate years abroad have attracted extraordinary interest. After being neglected for many years (i.e. during a period of dominance by behaviorism in psychology), interest in the science of consciousness exploded in the last decades, with much progress in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and other areas. The University of Arizona has been at the center of these developments. 

The Center for Consciousness Studies was formed in 1998 with a seed grant from the Fetzer Institute. The Center is a unique institution whose aim is to bring together the perspectives of philosophy, the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, the social sciences, medicine, and the physical sciences, the arts and humanities, to move toward an integrated understanding of human consciousness. The Center is unique in its broad spectrum approach. Other groups tend focus either on cognitive neuroscience, philosophy or purely phenomenal experiential approaches, whereas the Center not only integrates these areas, but "thinks outside the box" of conventional wisdom which has thus far, at least, failed to make significant breakthroughs. CCS also supports original research on consciousness, not only to understand the origins of consciousness, but to advance therapies for mental and cognitive disorders.

The Science of Consciousness (TSC) conferences (since 1994) 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. 

The Science of Consciousness is an interdisciplinary conference emphasizing broad and rigorous approaches to all aspects of the study and understanding of conscious awareness. Topical areas include neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, biology, quantum physics, meditation and altered states, machine consciousness, culture and experiential phenomenology. Held annually since 1994, the conference is sponsored by the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, and alternates yearly between Tucson, Arizona and various locations around the world.  The Center is well known for hosting the biennial conference: 'The Science of Consciousness,’ (‘TSC’) the world's largest and longest-running interdisciplinary conference addressing fundamental questions regarding consciousness, the brain, reality, and existence.

Held in Tucson Arizona in even-numbered years, TSC attracts 700 to 800 neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists, artificial intelligence (AI) proponents, physicists, meditators, altered-state researcher, mystics and interested lay people from all over the world. In odd-numbered years the conference has been held in Italy, Denmark (twice), Japan, Sweden (twice), Czech Republic, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Finland, San Diego and Switzerland.  The 2020 TSC was held Online.  

The 27th annual TSC will be held April 18-23, 2022. Because of pandemic uncertainty, TSC 2022 is being planned as a hybrid event, with both 1) remote online live streaming, and 2) live in-person participation in Tucson. 


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he TennisCentric Approach to Consciousness is an on-court Tennis Workshop in the form of daily Clinics at the Science of Consciousness Conference.  TennisCentric 2022 presents a study of the Feed Forward Mechanism in the context of Linguistics, Theoretical Physics, and Philosophy. Chomsky’s “Merge and Displacement” formulation for language design is compared with stroke production in skill acquisition. Is Penrose’s “Backwards Time Travel” in play when you hit the ball? And with Chalmers’ on “Simulation Theory” we consider the adaptive advantage of inhabiting the embodied simulation in Tennis. 
The Feed-Forward Mechanism is a well established dynamic in neural systems. Motor behavior such as the art of hitting a tennis ball hinges on anticipating the load at the point of contact. The brain is described as a predictive engine. This years theme considers the limits and possibilities of such predictive modeling and explores this deeply engendered faculty in the context of Chomsky’s “Merge and Displacement” formulation, Penrose’s “Backwards Time Travel” and Chalmers recent work on “Simulation Theory”.  TennisCentric is the use of tennis as a Contemplative Practice not unlike yoga or meditation. The workshops have been an experiential part of the conference that has enabled participants to unwind and enjoy a morning hitting session while exploring the role of mind as it integrates into the body through the different stages of skill acquisition, training and performance in tennis.  The sessions draw from research, content, explanations and theoretical frameworks surfacing at the conference that help us to understand Consciousness in the context of the game itself. This year the focus moves to a discussion of Fractal Time and Proprioceptive Feel. We explore non-sequential chunking in skill acquisition, the mind-set in the performance state and we examine the art of maintaining simply a “presence of mind” in training so that the behaviors of hitting discipline become one with the Feel State as they are processed at the Fine Scale. 
Mark Valladares , USPTA Elite/ PTR Pro -  A Tennis Teaching Professional who studies Body and Brain Dynamics to inform skill acquisition, training and performance. Valladares’ experiential approach is coupled with an interdisciplinary survey of cognitive neuroscience, biology, tensegrity, fractal time and neural oscillations. His current work ties the Hard Problem to a quantifiable basis. He teaches at the Overland Park Racquet Club in Kansas City.  TennisCentric has been offered at the TSC conferences since 2016.  Amherst College BA Neuroscience & English

TennisCentric Improvisational Subjective Induction Theory copy.jpg

TennisCentric Improvisational Subjective Induction Theory copy.jpg



Abstract/Performance Art

Songs, Psychedelics and Seizures: A One-Woman Flow

Singer and actress KAREN KOHLER lives for the unconventional in art and love. A 1985 graduate of the University of Arizona, she emigrated to the U.S. from Germany as a child, married her college sweetheart and traded in a top management position at a Fortune 500 company to pursue her passion for singing. For over two decades, she has fueled a critically acclaimed performance career from her base in New York City, crossbreeding in multiple languages a range of theatrical and musical styles. Kohler "fearlessly blurs the lines separating cabaret, theater and rock 'n' roll." (The New York Times). “These are not mere covers but new interpretations that lead one to forget the original.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) Her artistry is"tempestuous,"(The Washington Post), "a tour-de-force performance,"(BroadwayWorld), and “highly original”(Cabaret Scenes). Winner of the New York Nightlife, MAC and Backstage Bistro awards, Kohler is the founding producer of the Kabarett Kollektif and a director who lectures at the university level on the European roots of small stage performance art. Recently, she introduced her guided meditation channel Artist Heart, and launched her life arts podcast The RudeWoke Sessions with ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna as her first guest. Visit for info on concerts, workshops and events.
This talk orients on three points of access to flow states: Performance art, psychedelic tripping and epileptic seizures.  Structured as a one-woman performance monologue, this talk considers three gateways through which I have passed repeatedly out of my neurological backyard, my DMN, and into the alternate landscape of flow. Using stories from my life as a professional singer and storyteller, I outline the similarities first between flow states and psychedelics, then between psychedelics and seizures and finally draw a circle around them all to investigate the larger question of what truly constitutes an altered state.  All three landscapes of flow share certain metaphysical traits (a sense of timelessness, spaciousness) and signal physical characteristics (the "tingle" of flow onset, the lift/rising into psychedelics, the aura of seizures). They share determining grounds (practices, rehearsals, set and setting, trigger events), and mental capacities (curiosity, play and the pleasure of discovery). And all three offer potentials for deep insight, revelation and "downloads" that issue from and are integral to each kind of experience.  I observe that a kind of surrender can be engendered in all three conditions - art-making, conscientious engagement with psychedelics, and the neurological detouring that characterizes seizures - which can soften and reorder beliefs curated by the DMN. As an artist, I am able to induce a flow state endogenously, sustain it, and create something out of nothing. What is that? Well, it's a manner of defaulting outside the default mode network. It's fair to say that artistic inspiration occurs outside the DMN, and we artists make our living by entering altered states of being. We default outside the default, applying ourselves in this space that exists outside of normal operational parameters. But then what is normal, and what is real?
In my talk, I scan Csikszentmihalyi's Eight Characteristics of Flows States and add a few from my own lived experience as a stage artist, psychonaut and one who has experienced seizures. I address how psychedelics facilitate "gate-hopping" between the DMN and broader consciousness, and along the way, I open the pages of the Hippocratic Corpus and ask: Sacred illness or sacred surrender? I wish to offer an expanded view of epilepsy as more than a mysterious etiology, and rather as a window/portal into the mystery where creation is the default.  The talk's broader implication is that flow states are original, natural and unexceptional in the broader view of consciousness and that barricading within the DMN is the unnatural state, the altered state. Impulses as basic to the human condition as creativity can be accessed at will. Everyone finds their thing and most, if not all of us, are drawn to and called to it at a very young age. The invitation I leave on the table is for us to consciously bring flow back into daily life so we may return to ourselves and our unaltered relationship to our planet and to each other.

Gisella Bustillos, Narration, Time, Travel and Time Travel

In this talk I will discuss making my documentary “A Brief History
of Time Travel”, as well as some of the things that I’ve learned along the way. Specifically: 1) how time travel narratives have appeared throughout history, mythology, and rituals, 2) time travel in cinematic storytelling: specifically, cinema’s properties as an allegorical time machine and experimental play with sequential logic in linear storytelling, 3) concepts in time in mass media and 4) personal views of time travel from interviewees regarding the nature of reality and time.
The structure of this talk will take clips from the documentary “A Brief History of Time Travel” as well as various media examples discovered through research.


SKY NELSON-ISAACS is a theoretical physicist, speaker, author, and musician.  He has a masters degree in physics from San Francisco State University, with a thesis in String Theory, and a BS in physics from UC Berkeley.  Author: Leap to Wholeness


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Abi Behar-Montefiore, Conference/Program Manager