Present Sense

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Illustration: Sarah Firth


The Problem of Consciousness

Bookings for this digital event can be made now.

What do we mean when we talk about consciousness? For a long time, many scientists steered clear of the study of consciousness, deeming it impossible to observe and subjective by definition.

But that’s changing, thanks to imaginative interdisciplinary research and to new neuroimaging tools that allow scientists to monitor neural activity connected to changing states of consciousness. 

In this panel discussion hosted by Hilary Harper, our experts will bring us up to date on current neuroscientific understandings of consciousness. They’ll also discuss the major gaps in our knowledge, the latest medical, psychological and philosophical developments, and the limitations of scientific methods and language in this field.

How do we describe and measure states of consciousness across the human life span; in embryos and in adults with brain trauma or late-stage dementia? Is it even possible to solve the puzzle of human experience and sentience? Roll up your sleeves as we give it a crack with the best in the business – piece by piece.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne-Monash Consciousness Research.

The Problem of Consciousness


Portrait of Olivia Carter

Olivia Carter

Olivia Carter is a Professor at the University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. She heads the Perception and Pharmacology Lab, where her research focuses on understanding how the brain’s natural chemicals control complex behaviours, thoughts and perceptions. Olivia has a strong interested in understanding the biological basis of consciousness and previously served as Executive Director of the international Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.

Portrait of Jakob Hohwy

Jakob Hohwy

Professor Jakob Hohwy is Director of the newly established Monash Centre for Consciousness & Contemplative Studies. He conducts interdisciplinary research on consciousness science. He is Deputy editor of the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness and author of The Predictive Mind.

Portrait of Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper has a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, and 30 years’ experience in radio. She’s been at the ABC since 2005. She’s covered everything from news and current affairs to traffic reporting, arts, health, gardening, science, finance, education, relationships, parenting, and much discussion of food.

How much?

You can name your own price for this event, any amount helps keep our events accessible. Bookings are recommended.Book now

Present Sense

What are human thoughts? What’s the relationship between mind and body? And how does a lump of squishy tissue inside our skulls generate – and mediate – so much sensation, awareness and experience? The mystery of human consciousness has had thinkers scratching their heads (and experiencing the sensation of scratching their heads) for millennia.

In this series of talks we'll hear from some big brains – neuroscientists, engineers, philosophers, psychologists and clinicians – at the forefront of interdisciplinary research in the consciousness field. They’ll discuss their work and its implications for Artificial Intelligence, mental health, aged care and even the survival of our species.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne-Monash Consciousness Research.

Melbourne Monash Consciousness Research Logo


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