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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Neuroscience: Getting beyond mind-body problem

Actually, there isn't a mind-body problem. There is a materialism problem. If scientists cannot talk about non-material entities like the mind, they cannot help us understand basic facts like why so many people in the control group get better just because they know they are taking part in a study. Or why so many people die within a few years of losing a life partner (statistically beyond normal). What we think and how we think matters.

A recent symposium "Beyond the Mind-Body Problem", held at the United Nations, featured many non-materialist neuroscientists, including Mario Beauregard, lead author of The Spiritual Brain.
I am told that Jeffrey Schwartz, lead author of The Mind and the Brain, vastly livened up the proceedings ... as I very well believe.
And listen here to Kevin Keough's North Star Guardian interview with Mario Beauregard.

The photo above, taken by Bruce Greyson, features Schwartz, and physicist Henry Stapp, with Beauregard on the right - the three are the authors of a paper offering a model for non-materialist neuroscience (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2004).

Here's the conference overview:
Over the past decade, an increasing number of physicians and neuroscientists have sought to uncover the complex relationship between mind, brain, and consciousness as they continue to search for a more comprehensive perspective on the "self" and the workings of the human mind. Though much remains to be done, their findings to date have shed a more holistic light on our understanding of the elusive mind-body problem. Join our panel of renowned experts as they explain how new paradigms fueled by the latest scientific research are beginning to fundamentally alter how we perceive and relate to the physical world.

The symposium will also serve as the occasion for the formal launch of The Human Consciousness Project—a multidisciplinary collaboration of international scientists and physicians who have joined forces to research the nature of consciousness and its relationship with the brain. Led by Dr. Sam Parnia, The Human Consciousness Project will conduct the world's first large-scale multicenter studies at major U.S. and European medical centers on the relationship between mind and brain during clinical death. The results of these studies may not only revolutionize the medical care of critically ill patients and the scientific study of the mind and brain, but may also bear profound universal implications for our understanding of death and what happens when we die.
Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose.

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