Archives

Congratulations to Roger Penrose for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020!

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

We are happy to congratulate Sir Roger Penrose, University of Oxford, for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020.

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2020/press-release/

The diploma and medal are presented to Roger Penrose today, 8 December 2020, at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London.

https://www.nobelprize.org/ceremonies/nobel-week-2020/

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.
  • Roger Penrose & JF Storm discuss, Oslo 2016 – 3 min. sample

Breakfast Meeting: What is consciousness and how do we experience the world?

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

What is consciousness? What do we mean when we say that someone or something is conscious? And what does this mean for neuroscience?

There is nothing more familiar to us than our own internal experiences. You know exactly how it is to be you, and no one else can experience the world exactly the same way as you do. But why is it like this? Why does seeing red, or being hungry feel like anything at all? And how can these experiences arise from neurons and electrical signals?

Thursday 13.02.20, 08.00 – 9.30 AM, an interdisciplinary panel meets to discuss some of humanity’s great unanswered questions.

We invite you to a breakfast meeting hosted by Oslo Life Science, Faculty of Medicine, and the Convergence Environment ConsciousBrainConcepts. The event is free but requires registration.

07.30 – Registration and simple refreshments
08.00 – Introductions by the panelists (Johan F. Storm, Hedda H. Morch, Sebastian Watzl)
08.30 – Panel discussion
09.00 – Questions from the audience
09.30 – End
For more information, visit the event site or facebook page.
The event will take place in Auditorium 1 at the new Domus Juridica building

CANCELED. Daniel DENNETT: Autonomy, Consciousness, and Responsibility

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

UPDATE: THIS EVENT IS CURRENTLY CANCELED DUE TO CORONA. WE HOPE TO RESCHEDULE THE EVENT IN THE AUTUMN SEMESTER IF CONDITIONS ALLOW.

The deep relation between human consciousness and moral responsibility seems obvious, but it has some underappreciated complexities. The traditional idea of free will has misled many into thinking it requires some sort of exemption from external determination, when in fact it requires something more interesting: the kind of autonomy that, independently of indeterminism or determinism, can be achieved—or lost—by some complex physical systems under certain conditions. All living things do things for reasons, but only human beings have reasons they can comprehend and act on. The capacity to be “moved by reasons” (as Kant put it) depends on having language, which both enables and depends on a special kind of consciousness so far exhibited only by our species. The difference makes a difference: we don’t—and shouldn’t—hold wolves or orcas morally responsible when they kill people. They are conscious but are not morally competent agents.

Daniel Dennett is a prominent American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology. He is one of the most famous living philosophers and the author of numerous books. He was a student of W. V. Quine at Harvard University, and Gilbert Ryle at the University of Oxford, where he received his PhD in philosophy in 1965. He’s currently Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and Professor, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA (http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/).

Books by Dennett:
Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (1981)
Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (1984)
The Mind’s I (1985)
Content and Consciousness (1986)
The Intentional Stance (1987)
Consciousness Explained (1992)
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1996)
Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (1997)
Brainchildren (Representation and Mind) (1998)
Freedom Evolves (2003)
Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (2005)
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006)
Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language (2007)
Science and Religion (2010)
Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking (2013)
Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013)
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017)

Dennett on Evolution of Consciousness at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2018
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbOP0IKpsZ0

Programme:
15.30 – 15.35 Opening by Hans Petter Graver President of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
15.35– 15.45 Introduction by Johan F. Storm, Neurophysiology, and Dagfinn Føllesdal, Philosophy, Univ. of Oslo
15.45– 16.45 Lecture by Daniel Dennett: Autonomy, Consciousness, and Responsibility
16.45– 17.50 Panel Discussion and questions from the audience

Venue:
Auditorium 1, Georg Sverdrupshus (University Library), University of Oslo, Molkte Moes Vei 39, 0317 Oslo

The event is free of charge, seating on a first come first serve basis.

Hosted by www.bevissthetsforum.no

Open symposium on scientific theories of consciousness

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

Integrated Information Theory:
What is it, how did it emerge, and how can we use it?

After decades of progress in cognitive neuroscience consciousness is still eluding understanding. Are scientific theories of consciousness even possible? If so, how close have we gotten so far? In this symposium we discuss the integrated information theory (IIT), a leading theory of consciousness. First, the theory and its development will be put in historical context and the fundamentals of the IIT are introduced. Next, how its general approach sets it apart from other theories and how it has been used to inspire clinically useful tools and applications will be explained. Finally, we will discuss questions from the audience about IIT and consciousness more broadly in a panel discussion.

This event is open for everyone, but please let us know if you will attend by joining our facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/814383772339927/), or sending an email to b.e.juel@uio.no.
Hope to see you there!

 

PROGRAM:
15:00 – 15:05: Introductions by Bjørn Juel and Jeremiah Hendren
15:05 – 15:45: Lecture by professor Johan F. Storm,
Title: Theories of Consciousness: concepts, history, and challenges
15:45 – 16:40: Lectures by Matteo Grasso, PhD, and B. Juel, PhD
Title: IIT: From experience to the brain and back

Break with mingling, snacks and refreshments

17:00 – 18:00 Panel Discussion and questions from the audience

This event is open for everyone!
Hope to see you there.

 

About the speakers/panelists:

Johan F. Storm is professor of medicine at the University of Oslo, where he leads the Brain Signalling group. He heads two international research collaborations focused on the study of consciousness in EU’s Human Brain Project and the Life Science Initiative at UiO.

Matteo Grasso is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for sleep and Consciousness (Tononi lab – UW Madison) specializing in philosophy of mind and computational neuroscience.

Bjørn E Juel works as a researcher with Storm (UiO) and a honorary Fellow at CSC.

Jeremiah Hendren is a PhD candidate studying science communication at Uni. of Munich

 

More information:

If you want to know more about the integrated information theory right now, here are some links you might find interesting:

Podcast episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bei2xLPpFN4

Pop-sci article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/a…/what-is-consciousness/

 

ITZHAK FRIED, public lecture: Single neuron studies of memories and volitions in the human brain

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

Public lecture: “Single neuron studies of memories and volitions in the human brain” – by Professor Itzhak Fried.
***
Forum for Consciousness Research and The Norwegian Science Academy invites to a meeting and lecture with the renowned neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried, who is famous for, among other, concept cells, which are neurons that respond to specific concepts, such as Jennifer Anniston!

***
Programme:
17.30: Welcome and introduction by Johan F. Storm, Neurophysiology, University of Oslo
17.35: Itzhak Fried: “Single neuron studies of memories and volitions in the human brain”
18.35: Coffee break
18.45-19.15: Discussion and questions from the audience
***
The ultimate goal of neuroscience is to understand mechanisms of the human brain, including the electrical activity of single brain cells, which for ethical reasons can normally only be studied in animals. Dr. Fried has pioneered the use of invasive brain recordings in patients during various clinical procedures, thus providing a unique access to high-resolution brain signals from humans. Of special value are his rare recordings, in awake humans, of single brain cell activity, providing a unique view of aspects of cognition that are impossible to study in animals, such as imagery, language, and consciousness. In his lecture, Fried will discuss the unique contribution of invasive recordings from patients to cognitive neuroscience, focusing on memory, volition, and consciousness. Humans seem to decide for themselves what to do and when. Studying such volitional acts is a major challenge for neuroscience. Fried will discuss key mechanisms in the generation of voluntary actions: their apparent spontaneity and link to conscious experience, describing patient studies of the cortical basis of conscious volition down to the single-neuron level, the goal-directedness of voluntary action, and how internal generation of action can be linked to goals and reasons.
***
Dr. Itzhak Fried is Professor of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. He is Director of the Adult Epilepsy Surgery Program there, and Co-Director of the Seizure Disorder Center. Concurrently, he is a Professor of Neurosurgery at Tel-Aviv University in Israel. After a degree in physics at Tel-Aviv University, Dr. Fried completed his Ph.D. at UCLA, and a medical degree at Stanford and neurosurgery training, specializing in epilepsy surgery, at Yale University. He heads the Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, which is centered on the opportunities to study the human brain afforded by the epilepsy surgery. Some of these patients have depth electrodes to evaluate their seizures for subsequent surgery, and used to record single neuron responses during cognitive tasks, including visual perception, memory, navigation, and imagery.

Lab website: www.itzhakfried.com

Key references:
1. I. Fried et al. (2014) Single Neuron Studies in the
Human Brain, MIT press.
2. Mukamel R, Fried I (2012) Human intracranial recordings and
cognitive neuroscience. Annu Rev Psychol. 63:511-37.
3. Fried I et al. (2017) Volition and Action in the Human Brain:
Processes, Pathologies, and Reasons J Neurosci.37:10842-10847.

Robert T. KNIGHT: Physiology of Human Cognition. Insights from Intracranial recording

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

Abstract

The last decade has witnessed an explosion of research employing recording of electrical activity directly from the human brain. Intracranial recording provides a powerful window into the neural basis of cognition, thought and consciousness and has been applied to a host of human behaviors.

The first key finding was that the human brain generates robust neural activity up to 250 Hz (high frequency band; HFB) with exquisite spatial (millimeter) and temporal (millisecond) resolution.

The second important observation was that HFB activity, a surrogate for local cortical activity, is modulated by slower cortical oscillations with different tasks eliciting unique sub-second distributed spatial-temporal activity patterns.

I will first discuss how intracranial recording has provided novel insights into the neural basis of attention, language, memory and decision-making with the intracranial findings often challenging prior dogma in the field. I will then review our efforts using HFB activity to decode imagined speech in an effort to develop a brain computer interface for treatment of disabling language deficits.

Bio

Dr. Knight is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UC Berkeley and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at UC San Francisco. He has a BS in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, an MD from Northwestern University Medical School, did Neurology training at UC San Diego, Post-Doctoral training at the Salk Institute and was a member of the Neurology Department at UC Davis from 1980-1998. He moved to UC Berkeley in 2000 and served as Director of the UC Berkeley Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute from 2001- 2011.

Dr. Knight has twice received the Jacob Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for distinguished contributions to neurological research, the IBM Cognitive Computing Award, the German Humboldt Prize in Neurobiology and the Distinguished Career Contribution Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His laboratory studies neurological patients with frontal lobe damage and also records electrical signals directly from the brain in neurosurgical patients to understand the role of prefrontal cortex in goal-directed behavior.  His laboratory is also engaged in developing a speech prosthesis for use in patients with disabling neurological disorders.

 

The event is hosted by RITMO Center for Interdisciplinarity Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion (University of Oslo) in collaboration with Forum for Consciousness Research / Forum for Bevissthetsforskning. See here for more information.

Workshop on Consciousness, Meditation, and the Resting Brain

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

The resting brain, including the mind wandering that it produces, has been argued to play an important role in creating conscious experience. Its role in meditation varies: Concentrative meditation seeks to avoid mind wandering, mindfulness to accept but then let go of it, while nondirective meditation sees it as a central part of the process. This workshop attempts to shed light on various aspects of the interplay between consciousness, meditation and the resting brain.

The workshop will take place on the 6th and 7th of September, 2019, 09.00-18.00 at the University of Oslo, Blindern campus, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor conference room. See the bottom of this post for a tentative programme. Attendance by request. Send an email to Professor Halvor Eifring at: halvor.eifring@ikos.uio.no if you would like to participate. Limited number of seats.

 

In addition to this workshop, psychiatrist and philosopher Georg Northoff, from Canada, will on the 5th of September hold a workshop with Professor Halvor Eifring and Professor Svend Davanger about how consciousness comes into existence. The event is hosted by ACEM Norway, at Sporveisgaten 37, Oslo. The event will occur from 18.00 to 20.00, and costs 100 NOK to attend. For a longer description about the event (in Norwegian), go here.

 

Tentative programme main workshop:

Friday 6 September

9-12.30

● Zac Irving, University of Virginia

Harnessing the wandering mind: meta-control in cognitive science and Zen

● Karin Kukkonen, University of Oslo & Ylva Østby, University of Oslo

Reading experiences, memory and mindfulness: the ReadMemo project

● Reidar Tyssen, University of Oslo

Long-term mental health effects of mindfulness training in medical and psychology students

● Sebastian Watzl, University of Oslo

Changing us or changing them? Meditation and the ethics of distraction

14.00–17.00

● Augustine Casiday, independent researcher

Topic to be announced

● Halvor Eifring, University of Oslo

Modern philosophical discourses on mind wandering

● Johan F. Storm, University of Oslo

Assessing the capacity for consciousness in the resting brain

Saturday 7 September

9-12.30

● Georg Northoff, University of Ottawa

The brain’s resting state and its relevance for consciousness

● Are Holen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The experience of time in nondirective meditation

● Svend Davanger, University of Oslo

How the brain’s synaptic memory creates a personal sense of time

● Stein Andersson, University of Oslo

A non-invasive EEG-based method to study neural plasticity: feasible for exploring basic neurocognitive mechanisms of meditation?

14.00–17.00

● Kieran Fox, Stanford University

Creativity and the wandering mind: novelty and utility in spontaneous waking and sleeping cognition

● Øyvind Ellingsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The brain and the rest: nondirective meditation and physiological responses related to the autonomic self

● Anders Nesvold, Oslo University Hospital

Alterations in autonomic nerve activity during nondirective meditation

● Vilde Haakensen, Oslo University Hospital

Meditation and the brain: stress reduction in relatives of cancer patients

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THE DREAMING BRAIN: On Sleep, Dreaming and Consciousness

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

Forum for Consciousness Research and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters invite you to an open meeting on the science and philosophy of sleep, dreaming and consciousness.

Schedule:
11.00 – 11.05: Introduction by Johan F. Storm, Neurophysiology, University of Oslo
11.05 – 12.05: Antti Revonsuo: On the fundamental nature of dreaming: From dream philosophy to consciousness science.
12.05 – 12.20: Coffee break
12.20 – 13.20: Francesca Siclari: Conscious experience in sleep: a high-density EEG assessment
13.20 – 13.50: Discussion and questions from the audience

Dr. Antti Revonsuo (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Skövde) is a Finnish cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher of mind. He seeks to understand consciousness as a biological phenomenon and his work focuses on altered states of consciousness with dreaming in particular. He is well known for his Threat Simulation Theory, which states that dreams serve the biological function of rehearsing possibly threatening situations in order to aid survival.

Dr. Francesca Siclari (Lausanne University Hospital) is a medical neuroscientist specialized on consciousness and dreams. She seeks to understand consciousness based on dream content and their neural representation in the human brain. Her work together with Giulio Tononi is best known for describing the first neural correlates of dream experiences in the source reconstructed EEG.

Cancelled: Public lecture by Daniel Dennett

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

20181203_Poster Dan DENNETT_FBF-DNVA-UiO 28.Jan_JFS8

 

CANCELLED

This lecture has sadly been cancelled due to a minor illness preventing Professor Daniel Dennett to travel to Europe at this time. Hopefully a new opportunity will present itself in the future.

 

Abstract:

The deep relation between human consciousness and moral responsibility seems obvious, but it has some underappreciated complexities. The traditional idea of free will has misled many into thinking it requires some sort of exemption from external determination, when in fact it requires something more interesting: the kind of autonomy that, independently of indeterminism or determinism, can be achieved —or lost—by some complex physical systems under certain conditions. All living things do things for reasons, but only human beings have reasons they can comprehend and act on. The capacity to be “moved by
reasons” (as Kant put it) depends on having language, which both enables and depends on a special kind of consciousness so far exhibited only by our species. The difference makes a difference: we don’t—and shouldn’t—hold wolves or orcas morally responsible when they kill people. They are conscious but are not morally competent agents.

Daniel Dennett is a prominent American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology. He was a student of W. V. Quine at Harvard University, and Gilbert Ryle at the University of Oxford, where he received his D.Phil in philosophy in 1965.   He is one of the most famous living philosophers and the author of numerous books.

Philosophy of mind.  Dennett is primarily concerned with providing a philosophy of mind that is grounded in empirical research. In his dissertation, Content and Consciousness, he broke up the problem of explaining the mind into the need for a theory of content (later discussed in The Intentional Stance) and for a theory of consciousness, outlined in Consciousness Explained, where he presented his multiple drafts model of consciousness. He argues that the concept of qualia is confused and cannot be put to any use. His strategy mirrors Ryle’s approach of redefining first person phenomena in third person terms.

Free will. Dennett is a compatibilist, arguing that free will and determinism are mutually compatible. In his 1978 book Brainstorms, he proposed a two-stage model of decision making in contrast to libertarian views: “The model … has the following feature: when we are faced with an important decision, a consideration-generator whose output is to some degree undetermined, produces a series of considerations, some of which may of course be immediately rejected as irrelevant by the agent (…). Those considerations that are selected by the agent as having a more than negligible bearing on the decision then figure in a reasoning process, and …, those considerations ultimately serve as predictors and explicators of the agent’s final decision.”

Books by Dennett:

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (1981); Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (1984); The Mind’s I (1985); Content and Consciousness (1986); The Intentional Stance (1987); Consciousness Explained (1992); Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1996); Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (1997); Brainchildren (Representation and Mind) (1998); Freedom Evolves (2003); Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (2005); Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006); Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language (2007); Science and Religion (2010); Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking (2013); Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013);       From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017)

 Dennett on Evolution of Consciousness at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2018; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbOP0IKpsZ0

Technical Workshop with Dr. Oliver Rhodes on SpiNNaker, a neuromorphic computing platform

Event Start Date:
27. January 2023
Event End Date:
27. January 2023
Event Venue:

 

Spiking neural network simulation on SpiNNaker 

A massively parallel neuromorphic computing platform

Wednesday, 24 October, 14.00-15.00

Physiology Lunch Room/Library, Domus Medica, UiO (next to Rikshopitalet and Gaustad Hotel)

SpiNNaker: SpiNNaker is the largest massively-parallel neuromorphic computer platform in the world. It  has a million cores and can simulate hundreds of millions of neurons, and hundreds of billions of synapses.

Abstract: Simulating the brain is a challenge, even for modern supercomputers. As simulations grow in
size, traditional memory and communications mechanisms do not scale, and energy consumption can
become prohibitive. A solution to this problem is to develop bespoke hardware tailored to brain
simulation, also known as neuromorphic hardware. This seminar will introduce SpiNNaker (Spiking
Neural Network Architecture), a neuromorphic platform developed at the University of Manchester.
This massively parallel machine, comprised of over 1 million programmable ARM cores with a unique
routing framework, enables real-time power-efficient simulation of large-scale spiking neural
networks. As well as introducing the machine architecture and software, a range of simulations will
be presented, including a discussion of how simulating the brain can also inform the field of computer
science in order to help us develop more efficient, fault-tolerant computing machines.

Oliver Rhodes is a researcher from the University of Manchester,
UK. He earned a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the
University of Exeter, and was awarded a PhD in Aeronautical
Engineering from Imperial College London, for his work exploring
optimal design methods for flexible morphing structures. After several
years in industry with SIMULIA, the simulation division of the Dassault
Systemes software company, he joined the lab of Prof. Steve Furber
in Manchester to work on neural simulation software for the
SpiNNaker neuromorphic platform.