The Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona is sponsoring the 10th biennial "Toward a Science of Consciousness" conference, the world's largest and longest-running interdisciplinary gathering to address how the brain produces consciousness, the nature of reality and humanity's place in the universe.
Held in Tucson in even-numbered years since 1994, this year's conference will take place on April 9-14 at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Hotel and will bring together more than 600 participants from philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, medicine, quantum physics, machine intelligence, science, arts, spiritual practices and humanities. Registration is required and still is open.
The 2012 conference features many top-level speakers including author, physician and spiritual explorer Deepak Chopra in the opening plenary debate "War of the Worldviews," with Leonard Mlodinow, author, computer game pioneer, screenwriter, physicist and co-author (with Stephen Hawking) of the book "Grand Design." Joining them will be Menas Kafatos, who wrote "The Conscious Universe" and materialist author Susan Blackmore.
Pre-conference activities will include a number of specialized workshops and a forum on consciousness and Eastern philosophy. Chopra will give a special pre-conference workshop on April 9 on the "Neuroscience of Enlightenment."
Other session topics include searching and detecting consciousness in coma, anesthesia and sleepwalking with neurologists Steven Laureys and Melanie Boly, anesthesiologist George Mashour and psychologist Antonio Zadra, and a debate on higher order thought theories with philosophers Ned Block and David Rosenthal and neuroscientists Hakwan Lau and Victor Lamme.
The conference also includes 120 concurrent talks, 240 posters, art, technology and health demonstration sessions, exhibits, a consciousness poetry slam, a talent show and various social events.
Since its inception in 1994, the conference has gained a reputation for rigorous and leading-edge approaches to all aspects of the study of conscious experience.
The UA Center for Consciousness Studies was formed in 1998 with a seed grant from the Fetzer Institute to create an integrative forum for original thinking on the nature of existence.
UA founders include professor of psychology and department head Alfred Kaszniak; David Chalmers, former UA philosophy professor and one of the youngest Regents Professors named at the UA; the late Alwyn Scott, UA professor emeritus of mathematics; and Stuart Hameroff, UA professor of anesthesiology, along with Jim Laukes with the extended UA.
Kaszniak served as first director of the center, administratively housed in the department of psychology, followed by Chalmers before he returned to his native Australia and the Australian National University.
Hameroff now is the director and is with the UA department of anesthesiology in the College of Medicine.
This year's conference program was put together by Hameroff and Chalmers, who will return to Tucson for the event. They were assisted by Uriah Kriegel, UA associate professor of philosophy, and by center administrator and conference manager, Abi Behar-Montefiore.