Grey Matters: Examining Subjective Experience

Mind & Life’s resident neuroscientist on the past, present, and future of neurophenomenology.

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Brain1What is the human mind, and how can we develop it to its greatest potential?

There are many ways of trying to answer this age-old question. As a neuroscientist, I was trained within a theoretical system that largely equates the mind with the physical structure of the brain. Operating from this perspective, science has made incredible strides, giving us insights ranging from the molecular array of genes and proteins to the electrical firing patterns of individual neurons and neuronal assemblies. Yet, until recently, a central element of the human mind was largely missing from neuroscientific investigations: lived experience. Read More

Grey Matters: The BRAIN Initiative & Mapping the Mind

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The mysteries of the human brain are hidden in an almost unfathomable array of synaptic connections, cellular activity, neurotransmitters, gene expression patterns, and electrical oscillations. Even deeper than these lay the questions of how such an extraordinarily complex electrochemical system connects to our moment-to-moment experience as human beings: our perceptions, our thoughts, our emotions—what cognitive scientists call our “subjective experience.” At Mind & Life, we recognize the critical importance of subjective experience; after all, it is the very lens through which we filter and interpret our lives. To overlook it is to overlook human nature itself. Read More