Naturalizing Consciousness Seminar on Thursday, March 19, 20

"Optic Radiations in Visual Cortex"

A Live Streamed, Online Video Seminar "Naturalizing Consciousness: Conversations On The Biology of Subjectivity"

in association with

The Society for Consciousness Studies


Why are we conscious? Is cortex the organ of mind?

"Bernard Baars On Consciousness"

Bernie Baars is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute

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. 

What is the best scientific evidence that can tell us about subjectivity and the brain?

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. 

"Beautiful Mother and Child"

Throughout human history, people have perceived the conscious brain as the great nexus of human life,

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.

"Bidirectional Signaling in Cortex Bernard Baars On Consciousness"

A great many therapeutic approaches can be viewed in a global workspace framework,

 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.

"On Consciousness by Bernard Baars"

In this seminar we will explore these implications

based on the continued rise of brain evidence and psychological understanding. 

Seminar Details

When ~ Starting on Thursday March 19, 2020

Where ~ Online Only

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. 

Time ~ 5:30pm-7:00pm PST | 8:30pm-10:00pm EST

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


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.

About the Format

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.

Can’t attend the live streamed seminar, but still want in?

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


Registration Details


6 Week Seminar Registration Options



  • INCLUDES A SPECIAL HARDCOVER PRINT EDITION OF "On Consciousness: Science and Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory" by Bernard Baars - a $139 value.

A % of Seminar proceeds benefit The Society for Consciousness Studies.


  • Access Codes to live streamed video seminar "Return to Consciousness"
  • Personal letter from Bernie Baars & related scientific publications
  • Exclusive access to all seminar recordings online 24/7

"A valuable reference for technical audiences and a vigorous intellectual hike for the layman." — Kirkus Reviews

"On Consciousness Science and Subjectivity by Bernard Baars Print and Digital Full Color Editions"

Book Details

The Resource for Our Seminar.

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?

Naturalizing Consciousness

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.

Praise for Bernie Baars' Work

Murray Shanahan, PhD

"Murray Shanahan Prof of Cognitive Robotics Dept of Computing ICL on Bernard J. Baars"

"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

Antti Revonsuo, PhD

"Antti Revonsuo on Bernard Baars scientific contributions and book - On Consciousness Science and Su

"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

Daniel C. Dennett, PhD

"Dan Dennett on the writing and work of Bernard Baars and Global Workspace Theory"

“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."

Discussion Topics


Week 1: The Limited Capacity of Consciousness and the Enormous Capacity of Memory.

How do we reconcile this? 

Emergent "Surf Waves" in Cortex.

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?

Week 2: Cortex is the Organ of Mind. An invitation to understand the mindbrain.

“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?

Week 3: Holistic vs. Atomistic Approaches to the Brain.

“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

Week 4: Global Workspace Theory (GWT) as a Way to Reconcile Limited Capacity & Enormous Capacity.

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.

Week 5: The Complexities of the Living Brain and the Story of All This.

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.

Neuronal GW

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.


Week 6: Silent Consciousness: The key to 'higher states.'

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

Read An Excerpt & Buy the Book!

Publisher's site with direct links for purchase of On Consciousness...