Summer update from Forum for Consciousness Research

Summer update from Forum for Consciousness Research

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.

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.

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.

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