Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES - 20th Annual Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Conference
Friday 7 - Saturday 8 September 2018 | Regents University, Regents Park, London |

This conference will explore exceptional experiences such as mystical, spiritual, psychic, NDE and other 'anomalous' experiences. It will also address experiences engendered through the use of psychedelics. Such experiences can involve a sense of interconnectedness, a wider sense of self, a sense of peace, joy, bliss, awe and/or wonder and may be perceptually intense. In some cases they appear to offer exceptional knowledge. In many instances such exceptional experiences have a positive transformative effect on the experient.

The conference will look at accounts of exceptional experience, positive aspects of altered states, recent research on what is happening in the brain in altered states such as meditation and the benefits of exceptional experience, seen for example in recent work on the potential therapeutic benefit of various psychedelics in addressing depression. All welcome.


Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences
Milan Scheidegger, MD, PhD, MA HPK

Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history to induce exceptional experiences for therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Nowadays, in the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research, psychoactive drugs could serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of altered states of consciousness. In this talk, I will give an overview about how drug-induced exceptional experiences can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states also raise profound philosophical questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in living systems. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored.