Psychedelic medicines have a long history of shamanic use as therapeutic agents. They have also contributed in profound ways to the current neurochemical understanding of brain function. Recent clinical research has reconnected with the ancient shamanic uses of these medicines and also with work explored by clinical researchers more than half a century ago. Psychedelics are also powerful probes of the connection between brain and mind, a relationship that remains in many ways as poorly understood now as it was centuries ago. The prevailing model in contemporary neuroscience is that whatever mind, consciousness, and mental processes are, they are completely determined by physical properties of the brain. Psychedelics and some of the changes in mental function they facilitate may call into question the narrow physicalist model of the relation between brain and mind and provide opportunities for new directions of research in exploring the connection between brain physiology and consciousness.
SAND 2011 is a journey and exploration of the nature of awareness from the perspective of modern science, ancient traditions, philosophy, phenomenology, psychology and direct experience. Hear presentations of world-renowned quantum physicists, scientists, lecturers and authors like John Hagelin, Stanislav Grof, Lynne McTaggart, Fred Alan Wolf, Menas Kafatos, Gangaji, Rupert Spira, David Peat, Dean Radin, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Jeff Foster and many more, over this four-day conference.
The theme which we will be exploring this year is Time. What is time and does it really exist? Linear, nonlinear time, eternal now, infinityâ€¦ SAND 2011 will be an exploration of the concept and paradox of time from the perspective of modern science, ancient traditions, philosophy, phenomenology, psychology and of course direct experience.
David Presti Ph.D.
David Presti is a neurobiologist and cognitive scientist at the University of California in Berkeley, where he has taught in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology for more than twenty years. For more than a decade (1990-2000) he also worked in the treatment of addiction and of post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD) at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco. His areas of expertise include the chemistry of the human nervous system, the effects of drugs on the brain and the mind, the treatment of addiction, and the scientific study of the mind and consciousness.
He has doctorates in molecular biology and biophysics from the California Institute of Technology and in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon. Since 2004, he has also been teaching neuroscience to Tibetan monks in India, in a program inspired by the Dalai Lama. His primary research interest is the relation between mentality, consciousness, and brain physiology, the so-called mind-body problem.
Interdisciplinary study that attempts to explain the cognitive processes of humans and some higher animals in terms of the manipulation of symbols using computational rules. The field draws particularly on the disciplines of artificial intelligence, psychology (seecognitive psychology), linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy. Some chief areas of research in cognitive science have been vision, thinking and reasoning, memory, attention, learning, and language processing. Early theories of cognitive function attempted to explain the evident compositionality of human thought (thoughts are built up of smaller units put together in a certain way), as well as its productivity (the process of putting together a thought from smaller units can be repeated indefinitely to produce an infinite number of new thoughts), by assuming the existence of discrete mental representations that can be put together or taken apart according to rules that are sensitive to the representations' syntactic, or structural, properties. This language of thought hypothesis was later challenged by an approach, variously referred to as connectionism, parallel-distributed processing, or neural-network modeling, according to which cognitive processes (such as pattern recognition) consist of adjustments in the activation strengths of neuronlike processing units arranged in a network.