Understanding consciousness: A masterclass with neuroscientist Anil Seth

Understanding consciousness: A masterclass with neuroscientist Anil Seth

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Leading neuroscientist Anil Seth reveals the science and philosophy behind one of our greatest mysteries.

About this event

For thousands of years, humans have struggled to understand consciousness. Poets have examined perceptions of reality and the ‘self’ through experimentation in language and form. Artists have long created complex physical representations of the consciousness, while the priests and philosophers of yesteryear have committed years of study to discovering the truth behind what we call ‘reality’.

Today, neuroscientists are investigating the ways in which our brains absorb information and perceive the world around us, and they’re increasingly honing in on the mechanisms of consciousness in the brain. In this fascinating masterclass with Anil Seth, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists in the field of consciousness science, you will learn about the philosophical history of consciousness, and why many still believe it to be beyond scientific understanding.

After that, you will discover how our perception of reality is a ‘controlled hallucination’ produced by our brains, and what ‘delusion’ really means, as Anil taps into his two decades of ground-breaking research to make the science - and the magic - behind our conscious experiences more accessible.

Gain a new appreciation for one of the greatest and most powerful tools available to you: your brain.

Course content

Understanding consciousness:

  • What is consciousness?
  • The main challenges in studying consciousness
  • The ‘real problem’ approach to understanding consciousness

How conscious are you?

  • Introduce the notion of ‘level’ of consciousness
  • Sleep and anaesthesia
  • Disorders of consciousness
  • Can we measure conscious level?

Who are you, anyway?

  • Introduce the notion of ‘conscious self’
  • The self as a collection of perceptions, not as the ‘thing’ that does the perceiving
  • Interoception and emotion

Ongoing Q&A

Tutor profile

Anil Seth is a neuroscientist, author and public speaker whose mission is to advance the science of consciousness and to utilise its insights for the benefit of society, technology and medicine. He is a professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Program on Brain, Mind and Consciousness, a European Research Council advanced investigator, and the editor-in-chief of the journey Neuroscience of Consciousness (Oxford University Press). He holds degrees in Natural Sciences (MA, Cambridge), Knowledge-Based Systems (MSc, Sussex) and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (PhD, Sussex). Anil has published more than 180 papers and is a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher (2019-2021), which places him in the top 1% of researchers in his field worldwide. He is the author of Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and a 2021 book of the year for the Economist, the New Statesman and Bloomberg Business, and a science book of the year for the Guardian and the Financial Times.

Anil’s book Being You: A New Science of Consciousness is available to purchase in hardback. You can purchase a book and ticket for the combined price of £64.50 including P&P.

Course Details

  • Date: Monday 5 December 2022
  • Time: 6pm-9pm (GMT)

6pm GMT | 7pm CET | 10am PST | 1pm EST

This masterclass is available globally. If you are joining us from outside the United Kingdom, please use this time zone converter to check your local live streaming time.

You will be sent a link to the webinar two hours before the start time. Please email masterclasses@theguardian.com if you have not received the access link within one hour of the scheduled start time.

All Guardian Masterclasses are fully accessible but please contact us at masterclasses@theguardian.com if you have any queries or concerns.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

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