Saturday morning, I begrudgingly awoke to attend a session on Time and the Brain. Perhaps I was too sleep-deprived to remember the details, but I remember one speech about time being an illusion and another that was supposed to be on free will, but really only provided minimal qualification to Libet’s respected experiment that provided evidence against free will. The last presentation in this session addressed the increase of the seeming duration of time in terms of temporal resolution. I compared this talk to the work of David Eagleman, and spoke briefly to the speaker about the differences in their approach. I wish he gave me some more insight, but I still enjoyed his talk.
The very last plenary of the conference was about the beneficial effects of psylocibin on the the brain. The first speech was only moderately interesting–she simply discussed the subjects’ mystical experiences. The other presentation, meanwhile, provided evidence supported by fMRI of detectible brain changes: it showed how the default mode network and the task-positive network, normally competing for precedence, synchronized under the influence of psylocibin. However, the presenter mentioned that such brain activity is also characteristic of schizotypy, contrary to the strictly beneficial aspects previously outlined.
Once this talk ended, I had the pleasure of a hike and picnic in Saguaro National Part with another undergraduate (who had rented a car) and Susan Blackmore, quite possibly the highlight of my entire visit to Tucson.
Finally, when we returned, I spoke to a few of the presenters for a few hours and then attended the final party of the conference–the End of Consciousness party. For me, consciousness mostly ended in sleep–I did stop by the after-party, but soon escaped to my room, missing the continuing “festivities”.
The week I enjoyed in Tucson was surreal and wonderful. I don’t know if I will be able to return in the near future, but I certainly hope to keep in touch with the interesting people I met, and perhaps present some research of my own some day.