On October 21st, 2021, Prof Johan Storm gave a presentation about the history, progress, and problems in Consciousness science for the Norwegian Academy of Science. The presentation available (in Norwegian) here: BEVISSTHETSFORSKNING i Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi
“Long term potentiation (LTP): Essential in forming interconnected assemblies of engram cells for learning and memory.”
About Lømo’s landmark discovery and first description of long term potentiation (LTP) in 1966 and 1973, and the wide range of research that has followed from it. LTP is one of the most important discoveries is modern neuroscience, providing a leading model of learning and memory in the brain, and the best example of Hebb’s rule: “Cells that fire together wire together.”
00.00 – Johan Storm, UiO: Welcome
00.05 – Jens-Petter Berg, Research Dean, The Medical Faculty, UiO: Introduction
00.10 – Edvard Moser, NTNU: On the importance of Terje Lømo’s research
00.15 – Terje Lømo’s lecture
Terje Lømo’s lecture was held Thursday, March 3rd, at 12.00-13.15 in Runde Auditorium, Domus Medica, University of Oslo
While Covid19 has put a stop to many of our planned events, we hope to get back to inviting prominent lecturers soon. In the mean time, here are some news regarding a radio show on consciousness, a masters course we’re organizing on the same topic, and a recent publication from our lab.
*** RADIO SHOW ON CONSCIOUSNESS ***
Abels Tårn (a popular science radio show on NRK P2) has produced a four part series on consciousness involving interviews with people in the Brain Signalling Group (the very same who maintain this forum).
The four radio programs on CONSCIOUSNESS (in “Abels tårn”, NRK-P2) will be aired the following dates:
Friday 23rd of July at 10.03-11.00am
Friday 30th of July at 10.03-11.00am
Friday 6th of August at 10.03-11.00am
Friday 13th of August at 10.03-11.00am
The program will also be available online at nrk.no. Note that the show is in Norwegian.
Here is a small teaser (Norwegian) and a notice on the faculty web page (Norwegian). If you are impatient, you can also listen to the podcast “Verdensrommet” which hosted a post doc and a phd student from the lab (Bjørn Juel and André Nilsen, respectively) in an episode on the topic of consciousness (also in Norwegian). The show can be accessed on Spotify, among others.
*** MASTERS COURSE ON CONSCIOUSNESS ***
We in the brain signalling group, through the UiO:Life Science convergence environment: “ConsciousBrainConcepts” has created an elective masters course termed “Multidisciplinary Studies of Consciousness”.
Course description: What is consciousness? How does the brain generate consciousness? To what extent and in which forms does consciousness exist in non-human species? Could a machine be conscious? This course will introduce you to the mystery and problems of consciousness, the difficulties consciousness presents to science and philosophy, as well as practical, clinical, and ethical implications.Following a multidisciplinary approach, the concept and phenomena of consciousness will be studied from the perspectives of philosophy, medicine, neuroscience, and psychology. We will discuss diverse neuroscientific and psychological approaches and models of consciousness as well as the epistemological problems associated with studying consciousness.
Time: The course will take place autumn 2021; Week 36-44 Fridays 14.15 – 16.00 (except week 41; 12.15-14.00).
While this is the first such course organized at UiO, we hope to repeat it next year as well. Please see the above link for how to apply.
*** Published Paper ***
A new article about an advanced method for measuring states of consciousness in animals will soon appear in eNeuro (the official e-journal of the American Society for Neuroscience). The paper is a result of more than 4 years of intense research by Alessandro Arena and others (including A. Casali and R. Comolatti). We can now for the first time measure objectively whether or not animals (rodents) are in a conscious brain state, by using the most advanced and reliable method that has previously been developed and tested in humans: the Perturbational Complexity Index (PCI).
A preprint of the article was posted already last year.
Since the pioneering PCI study by Casali et al. in 2013, these and other leading consciousness researchers in USA and Europe tried for many years to establish this advanced method in animals, but without success (it proved surprisingly difficult), until Alessandro first succeeded about 3 years ago. Since then, Alessandro & al. have shared the details of this method in several meetings and talks within the Human Brain Project, and with the leading groups of Marcello Massimini in Milan, Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli in Wisconsin (where Alessandro gave an invited talk in 2019), M. Sanches-Vives in Barcelona, and Christof Koch at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle (2019). Recently Tononi’s group reported that they are now also getting the method to work in rodents.
*** Links To February’s Events on Consciousness ***
Earlier this year we also hosted two events; a panel discussion on AI and consciousness, and a lecture series on consciousness research, which has now been uploaded to YouTube: (panel discussion) (lecture 1) (lecture 2) (lecture 3)
Hope you all enjoy your summer and stay conscious.
In February 2021, as part of the Oslo Life Science Conference, we organized two events centered on consciousness. Both of these events are now uploaded to YouTube.
The first event was a panel discussion on Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness, which can be seen here.
The second event was a lecture series on Empirical Consciousness Research, comprising presentations by three distinguished researchers in the field: Johan Storm (video), Olivia Gossieres (video), and Katie Warnaby (video).
We are happy to congratulate Sir Roger Penrose, University of Oxford, for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020.
The diploma and medal are presented to Roger Penrose today, 8 December 2020, at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences writes:
“Roger Penrose used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them. Nothing can escape, not even light. In January 1965, ten years after Einstein’s death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.”
We at the Forum for Consciousness Research are especially happy to congratulate Roger Penrose, because he has for many years had a strong interest in deep issues regarding the fundamental nature of consciousness, and their connections with deep issues in physics. He has proposed bold new ideas about ‘the quantum nature of consciousness’. I think it is fair to say that his radical ideas are highly controversial among most neuroscientists working is this field, but also highly inspiring and interesting. They remind us of how much is still unknown in science. It is inspiring that one of the great minds of our time regards the nature of consciousness as one of the deepest, unsolved scientific questions.
We hope to get back to these issues in future meetings in our Forum.
When Roger Penrose visited Oslo in 2016, I had the pleasure of discussing some of his ideas with him. Part of our conversation was recorded by Torkel Jemterud from the Norwegian national broadcasting company, NRK, and will probably be broadcast within the next few weeks*.
-Johan F. Storm, 8 December 2020
On behalf of the Forum for Consciousness Research
Roger Penrose (left) with Prof. Snorre Christiansen (middle) and J.F. Storm (right) in Oslo, at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, in 2016.
*(An attached sound file gives a small sample of our conversation.)
All planned events, notably Daniel Dennet’s lecture on consciousness and free will, are canceled because of the coronavirus situation. Hopefully, we can continue to offer exciting talks and debates in the autumn semester if the situation allows. Take care, stay healthy, and be mindful of social distances.
Unfortunately, Professor Daniel Dennett’s planned lecture the 28th of January 2019 has been cancelled because he is experiencing a minor health problem and has been advised not to travel right now, but we hope that he can come to Oslo sometime later this year.
In the year past, there have been several interesting events related to consciousness research.
Washington – Society for Neuroscience
A symposium titled «Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Progress and Problems» was organized at the annual conference for the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). Melanie Boly, Marcello Massimini, Cyriel Pennartz, and Melanie Wilke presented different experimental approaches and theoretical frameworks relevant for consciousness research, and the themes of the symposium were presented in a conference paper in the Journal of Neuroscience. As this was the first major symposium covering consciousness research specifically in the 47 year histort of the Society for Neuroscience, it can bee seen as a milestone for the maturity of the field. The symposium was chaired by Johan Storm, and was supported by the Human Brain Project.
New York – Animal Consciousness Conference
The Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness (in conjunction with the Center for Bioethics and Animal Studies) at New York University hosted a conference on Animal consciousness, with series of distinguished speakers presenting and discussing the latest results and ideas from this field, including ethology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. More information about the conference, along with program, abstracts, attendance, and videos of talks can be found at the following website.
Barcelona – HBP Understanding Consciousness, a Quest for the 21st Century.
Consciousness research entered sunny Barcelona in late June. In two packed days there was talks by eminent neuroscience researchers and philosophers such as David Chalmers, Ned Block, Karl Friston, Jean-Pierre Changeux, Wolf Singer, Emery Brown, Olaf Blanke, Marcello Massimini, Rodolfo Llinas, Larissa Albantakis, Nico Schiff, Melanie Wilke, and many other excellent speakers. For an overview of speakers, talks, abstracts, and more, go to the website.
This was the first in a series of large Human Brain Project conferences, and was organized by Johan Storm together with other HPB members.
Krakow – Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
A short week after the Human Brain Project conference on consciousness in Barcelona, the ASSC opened the doors in beautiful Krakow. For almost a week, attendees got their fair share of talks, posters, workshops, and symposiums, on various topics within the interdisciplinary field of consciousness research. Summarizing everything that happened in a few sentences wouldn’t do it justice, so make sure you check out the web site or their Facebook page.
We hope to publish more information about these events and others like them in the time to come.
The 20th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 15th – 18th June 2016
“The ASSC is an academic society that promotes rigorous research directed toward understanding the nature, function, and underlying mechanisms of consciousness. The ASSC includes members working in the fields of cognitive science, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and other relevant disciplines in the sciences and humanities.”
Third Normind Meeting January 14, 2016 in Oslo
Normind is holding its third workshop on January 14th at CSMN at the University of Oslo