in association with
The Society for Consciousness Studies
WITH DR. BERNIE BAARS
Why are we conscious? Is cortex the organ of mind?
in La Jolla, CA. Author of hundreds of scientific papers, articles, essays, and many acclaimed books, Bernie is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness.
There are numerous approaches to consciousness in the long history of philosophy, biology, the humanities, and the arts. This particular approach emerged through half a century of experimental studies on conscious and unconscious brain events. The emerging science tends to avoid traditional polarities between subjectivity and the brain - the “mindbrain dichotomy” - that is not supported by emerging scientific evidence. If there is a chasm between subjectivity and the brain, it has not been discovered so far.
Global Workspace (GW) theory provides a widely used framework for our rapidly accumulating body of evidence. It is consistent with our current knowledge, and can be enriched to include other aspects of human experience. GWT has developed inductively, beginning with the best evidence available and emerging as a cognitive architecture.
GWT provides a set of explicit assumptions that can be tested, as many of them have been in the last twenty years. Global Workspace Dynamics (GWD) is the most current version of GWT - attempting to take into account the complexities of the living brain.
of social relationships, of their personal identities and histories, in encounters with new challenges. Consciousness under its many labels and manifestations is widely seen to be one of the core questions of life.
including traditional psychodynamics and depth psychology, but also cognitive behavioral techniques, and, indeed, many other kinds of carefully studied human functions.
Making progress in understanding consciousness therefore has an endless number of ramifications - philosophical, metaphysical, scientific, medical, clinical, and practical.
based on the continued rise of brain evidence and psychological understanding.
Via a two-camera studio in San Diego, or filmed on location with his special guests, Bernie Baars will stream live to ensure the highest quality video and sound production.
These online video seminar discussions will allow ample time to explore, in detail, its 6 individual Course Lectures and supporting multimedia presentation experiences.
One 90-minute Lecture + Q&A each week (6 Weeks).
Week One: Thursday, March 19th, 2020
Week Two: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Week Three: Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Week Four: Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
Week Five: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Week Six: Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
-- SPECIAL GUESTS INCLUDE --
DR. JAY N. GIEDD, Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Rady Children's Hospital; Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD School of Medicine & DAVID EDELMAN, PhD, neuroscientist and Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College.
Participants can initiate discussions, ask questions, or debate with Bernie on screen and via live text chat following every Discussion Topic. Our dialogues will be lively and fun.
No worries! For those who want to participate but cannot do so because of timing constraints, we offer exclusive access to all seminar recordings online 24/7 with registration.
Natalie Geld, CEO & Founder of MedNeuro
GENERAL REGISTRATION: $249
A % of Seminar proceeds benefit The Society for Consciousness Studies.
YOU WILL ALSO RECEIVE FULL ACCESS TO EXCLUSIVE SEMINAR MATERIALS FROM @BAARSLAB
"A valuable reference for technical audiences and a vigorous intellectual hike for the layman." — Kirkus Reviews
Bernie Baars is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
Bernie Baars’ Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory form a coherent effort to organize a large and growing body of scientific evidence about conscious brains.
Global Workspace Theory (GWT) is a consistent set of ideas about consciousness based on a great deal of psychological evidence, going back over the last two centuries or more. We can now study the living human brain without invasive surgery. Several tides of evidence are joining in ways that make sense. Because the body of evidence is now so large, GWT began with one simplifying question: “How does a serial, integrated and very limited stream of consciousness emerge from a nervous system that is mostly unconscious, distributed, parallel and of enormous capacity?”
Empirical progress since the 1980s has been spectacular. It therefore seems timely to republish successive stages of evidence and theory of the brain’s global workspace — covering 30 years during which consciousness re-emerged from decades of neglect.
In traditional scientific fashion, our basic evidence remains stable while ideas continue to evolve.
"The works of Bernard Baars collected here in "On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity" are among the foundational texts of the scientific study of consciousness.
Their influence in cognitive science and philosophy of mind is enormous, and their impact on my own thinking has been profound."
~Professor of Cognitive Robotics, Department of Computing, Imperial College London; Senior Research Scientist, DeepMind
"Bernie Baars started, almost single-handedly, the “consciousness revolution” in cognitive psychology over 30 years ago. In this book we can trace, through the re-publication of all the major original sources, the entire path from the first versions of his Global Workspace Theory, published over 30 years ago, to its current state and towards its future prospects as a unified theory of consciousness and the brain.
Bernie Baars is a giant on whose shoulders the future science of consciousness will stand."
~ Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Skövde, Sweden & Professor of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland, Assoc Editor of Consciousness and Cognition, An International Journal
“A clear-eyed, open-minded analysis of the problems of consciousness, and a wide-ranging synthesis of a variety of approaches.
For those who want to join the race to model consciousness, this is the starting line.”
~ Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, University Professor Austin B Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University. Author of "From Bach to Bacteria and Back: The Evolution of Mind," on Baars' original edition of "A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness."
How do we reconcile this?
Cortex is many things, and one of them is a wave medium. How does this help to explain the limited momentary capacity of consciousness? Or does it falsify limited capacity?
“I was probing a woman’s brain with an electrode when she said she heard a melody. I was so astonished I restimulated the same spot some 30 times. Each time she heard the same melody…” ~Wilder Penfield, in conversation with Denis Brian; reported in Genius Talk, 1995
Paradoxes in science are often the most productive questions to ask. Direct observation of the brain, starting with Wilder Penfield and Herbert Jasper since 1934, shows very nicely that consciousness emerges in the cortex - the largest, most interconnected organ. How do we deal with all the questions we have in terms of the biological basis of consciousness?
“Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, hear, and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant…. It is the same thing which makes us mad or delirious, inspires us with dread and fear, whether by night or by day, brings sleeplessness, inopportune mistakes, aimless anxieties, absent-mindedness, and acts that are contrary to habit.” ~Hippocrates of Cos, The Sacred Disease; Circa 400 B.C., Pp. 174-175.
In the history of brain science that question, for twenty five centuries since Hippocrates, deals with holistic vs. atomistic approaches to the brain.
Table 1: Holistic vs. Atomistic Approaches to the Brain
Neurons Cortical Dynamics (Freeman Mass Action)
Molecules Neuro-modulation (Lashley Q: Learn to ride a bike?)
Patches of Cortex GWD (Global Workspace Dynamics)
Global Workspace Theory (GWT) began with this question: “How does a serial, integrated and very limited stream of consciousness emerge from a nervous system that is mostly unconscious, distributed, parallel and of enormous capacity?” Global Workspace (GW) theory provides the most widely used framework to date for our rapidly accumulating body of evidence. It is consistent with our current knowledge, and can be enriched to include other aspects of human experience.
Biology of Consciousness
Gerald M. Edelman | Joseph A. Gally | Bernard J. Baars
The Dynamic Core and Global Workspace hypotheses were independently put forward to provide mechanistic and biologically plausible accounts of how brains generate conscious mental content. The Dynamic Core proposes that reentrant neural activity in the thalamocortical system gives rise to conscious experience. Global Workspace reconciles the limited capacity of momentary conscious content with the vast repertoire of long-term memory. In this lecture we show the close relationship between the two hypotheses.
Bidirectional Signaling, Near Criticality, Non-linearity, and Global Workspace Dynamics.
Global Workspace Dynamics (GWD) is the most current version of GWT - attempting to take into account the complexities of the living brain. These updated works trace the beginnings of GWT/GWD through the continued rise of brain evidence and psychological understanding.
Stan Franklin - LIDA: Cognitive Architecture's Computational Implementation of GWT. Our colleague and friend Stan Franklin and his many co-workers have built on GWT to sketch out a more general theory of cognition.
Dehaene-Changeux Model (DCM): Global Neuronal Workspace is Part of GWT. Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Pierre Changeux in Paris have developed experimentally testable models and made further testable claims about the brain basis of visual consciousness.
A coherent view of silent consciousness may be emerging today. “Silent consciousness” may correspond to electromagnetic power in the 10 Hz range of cortical activity.
(I don’t know how to answer metaphysical questions.)
Baars BJ (2013) A scientific approach to silent consciousness. Front. Psychol. 4:678. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00678
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