We are neuroscientists, physicists, philosophers, and psychologists
from ages 20 to 90. We include University of California juniors, Nobel laureates, and social activists. We are secular, with a membership including all ethnicities, the LGBTQ community — and we even have a Gaelic-speaking (lapsed) Irish Catholic.
We publish prolifically — at a rate substantially greater in peer-reviewed outlets than any cogitive-science department. Our next proceedings will be published October 2016. Moreover, we allow writers to hold their copyright without payment, nor do we charge for public access. We have published articles by Stu Kauffman, our mentors Walter Freeman and Henry Stapp, Jacob Needleman, and many others; the quality is second to none.
Our conferences and seminars have so far taken place at UC Berkeley.
Our view of consciousness
While a definition of consciousness may or may not be helpful, it is possible to identify signatures at the neural, informational, metabolic and phenomenal levels that distinguish conscious states from dreams on the one hand and from intermediate waking states on the other. At the neural level, conscious states are characterized by gamma-phase synchrony over an appreciable amount of time, from fractions of seconds upward. At the informational level, conscious states involve modulation of the gamma wave broadcast over the whole cortex, which constitutes the “content” presented to the subject. If that content is minimal, the conscious state may be called “meditation” and may last up to hours.
At the metabolic level, power consumption by the brain dips due to the superposition of the gamma on the white noise constituting random neural firing. At the phenomenal level, unlike dreams, conscious content is consistent. Moreover, this consistency does not apply to normal waking states, when narration to oneself may be fallacious.
More speculatively, it may be possible to identify signatures at the quantum level, and to identify biological substrates like microtubules that can sustain quantum coherent states at physiological temperatures. That task will comprise the life’s work of many of the 21st century’s finest minds.