A Guide to Getting Good Sleep: 8 Sleep Tips

Despite the fact that sleep is a natural human function, statistics show that 35.2% of adults don’t get enough of it. Moreover, 4% of adults use sleeping pills and don’t know how to get a good nights sleep without them. For the lucky few who know how to fall asleep instantly, you probably don’t need sleep tips, so this guide isn’t for you. For those of you in desperate need of sleep tips, keep reading to discover healthy sleep habits and sleep tips.

This guide covers everything you need to know about how to sleep better naturally, and when it’s time to seek help.

Why Do We Sleep?

Sleep is a necessary and essential part of our lives. It helps us to rest and rejuvenate our bodies, and it also helps us to consolidate our memories and learn new information. While we don’t yet fully understand why we need to sleep, there are several theories that attempt to explain it.

One theory suggests that sleep helps to clear out the “waste products” that accumulate in our brains during the day. Another theory posits that sleep helps us to conserve energy. Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that sleep is vital for our health and well-being. And many people are in dire need of a few effective sleep tips.

Matthew Walker on Why We Sleep

Matthew Walker is a sleep scientist and the author of Why We Sleep. In his book, Walker dives into the latest research on sleep and its importance for our overall health. He argues that sleep is essential for human survival and offers many benefits, including strengthening the immune system, regulating hormones, improving brain function, and reducing stress levels. According to Walker, most people need around eight hours of sleep per night in order to function at their best.

He also believes that our increasing reliance on technology is interfere with our natural sleep patterns and urges people to disconnect from devices before bedtime in order to get a good night’s rest. Despite the fact that we have only begun to understand the complexities of sleep, there is no doubt that it plays a vital role in our lives.

What Does It Mean to Get a Good Nights Sleep?

Most people know the feeling of a good night’s sleep. You wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested, ready to take on the day. But what exactly is good sleep? And how can it be quantified?

There are a few key indicators of good sleep. First, you should be able to fall asleep relatively easily and stay asleep for most of the night. You should also wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated, without the need for an alarm clock.

In addition, good sleep should leave you feeling alert and energized during the daytime hours. Finally, you should generally feel good mentally and physically after a night of good sleep.

There are a few ways to quantify good sleep. One is simply to keep track of how many hours you sleep each night and how rested you feel when you wake up. Another is to use a sleep tracker or wearable device that monitors your sleep patterns and quality.

This can give you valuable insights into how well you’re sleeping and what factors may be affecting your sleep quality. Whatever method you use, tracking your sleep can help you ensure that you’re getting the restful sleep you need to function at your best.

8 Sleep Tips to Sleep Better at Night

Most people know that getting a good night’s sleep is important for overall health and well-being. But with our busy lives, it can be hard to get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night. If you’re struggling to get enough rest, here are eight sleep tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps to regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.

2. Create a calming bedtime routine. A relaxing routine before bed can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the night.

3. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Creating an optimal sleeping environment can help you drift off to sleep more easily.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Both substances can interfere with sleep.

5. Avoid screen time in the hour before bedtime. The blue light from screens can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle.

6. Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you fall asleep more easily and deepen your sleep. Just be sure to avoid exercising too close to bedtime.

7. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation or mindfulness before bedtime. Reducing stress can improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

8. See a doctor if you’re still struggling to sleep despite trying these tips. There may be an underlying medical condition causing your insomnia, which a doctor can help treat.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good nights sleep

What Nutrients Can Help Your Sleep Better?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, certain nutrients can help you sleep better. The foundation recommends foods such as bananas, kiwis, salmon, whole grains and cherry juice for their sleep-promoting properties. Bananas are a good source of magnesium, which relaxes muscles and promotes sleep.

Kiwis contain serotonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects that can promote better sleep. Whole grains contain complex carbs that can boost serotonin levels and help you fall asleep more easily.

Cherry juice is high in melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal clock. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can improve your sleep quality and get the rest you need to function at your best.

Sleep Tips For Insomnia

If you’re one of the millions of people worldwide who suffer from insomnia, you know how frustrating it can be to lie awake night after night, tossing and turning with no hope of getting a good night’s rest. Luckily, there are a few simple sleep tips you can follow to improve your sleep habits and finally get the relief you need.

Here are five sleep tips for people with insomnia:

  1. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help to regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Wind down for 30 minutes before going to bed each night by reading or taking a bath. This will help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
  3. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Both of these substances can disrupt sleep and make insomnia worse.
  5. Get up and move around during the day. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, so aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

If you follow these sleep tips, you should start to see an improvement in your insomnia symptoms. However, if your insomnia persists, please consult with a doctor or sleep specialist to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your sleeplessness. Understanding psychological disturbance and not underestimating it is paramount to getting the right treatment.

The Bottom Line

While sleep is essential to function normally and lead an energetic and productive life, many people don’t get enough of it. This is often due to not having healthy sleep habits, and people often substitute this by using sleeping pills. If you’re struggling to get good sleep, try these sleep tips. If you’re still struggling, consider seeking professional help, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.


A Memorable Life-Memoir Writing Services

Memoir writing is a unique form of autobiography that allows you to explore your life experiences in a deep and personal way. Memoirs can be written about any subject, from your childhood memories to your current career.

Memoir writing is a unique form of autobiography that allows you to explore your life experiences in a deep and personal way. Memoirs can be written about any subject, from your childhood memories to your current career.

Whether you’re looking to tell your life story from start to finish or to recount a particularly interesting time of your journey, memoir writing services can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Memoir writing can be an excellent way to connect with your past and understand your present. It can be therapeutic, providing an outlet for emotions that might otherwise remain buried. Recollecting old memories has the potential to lead to new insights about your life and personality. 

If you’re interested in writing a memoir, there are many resources available to help you get started. You may even want to hire a memoir writer to streamline the process and make it more enjoyable.

Memoir writing services give you the opportunity to tell your story from a creative, engaging, and interesting angle.

The History of Memoirs


The history of memoirs dates back to ancient times when historical figures such as Julius Caesar and Augustus wrote about their lives and times. In the medieval era, religious figures such as Saint Augustine and Thomas à Kempis penned memoirs about their religious experiences.

The Renaissance saw the rise of secular memoirs, such as those written by Michel de Montaigne and Giovanni Boccaccio.

Memoirs became increasingly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, with notable examples including James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson and Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. Memoir writing enjoyed something of a resurgence in the 20th century. 

Since then, memoirs have been written by everyone from Presidents to prisoners, providing insight into the human experience. Whether you’re looking to write a memoir yourself or simply want to better understand this genre of literature, there’s much to be learned from the history of memoirs.

Why Write a Memoir? 

Have you ever wished that you could viscerally capture the most precious moments of your life? While cameras are great for snapping the visual aspects of your life, they can’t capture that first-person subjective experience or fundamental essence of passing moments. 

Even video recordings are only mere representations of moments passed, while we can see and hear them, we have no insight into the subtle emotions, motivations, and symbolic meanings behind the sight and sound. 

What Makes It Special?

Writing a memoir with memoir writing services allows you to revisit those moments with an unrivaled dimension of depth. A memoir is so much more than just a video or a photo, it’s a story. Memoir writing services can help you create that story.

The Psychology of Life Stories

Dan P. McAdams is a psychologist who spent much of his career studying life stories. In 2006, he published a groundbreaking book called The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By. In this work, he argued that life stories serve an important psychological role.

Specifically, they help us to make sense of our past experiences and to find meaning in our lives. In other words, life stories are not simply collections of facts; they’re also stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and why we’re more than just a meaningless speck in an unforgiving universe.

McAdams found that people with a strong sense of self-narrative are more likely to be happy and successful than those without it. This is because they have a clear sense of direction and purpose and are better able to cope with life’s inherent adversity.

Consequently, understanding our life stories can provide valuable insights into how to live life and self-actualize.

Unfortunately, just wanting to write a memoir isn’t enough, you’ll also need the skill to do it. Not a natural writer? Why not consider hiring memoir writing services?

Memoir Writing Services

Cerebro Somata memoir writing services are the perfect way to delve into the depths of your past and tell your story in a way that makes sense to you. You’ll get regular meetings with a writer with a background in psychology to discuss your most outstanding life experiences. 

How It Works

The process of my memoir writing services is simple, enjoyable, and cathartic and goes something like this: 

1. Initial Personality Analysis and Discussion

We’ll analyze your personality using the most well-established scales and tests and discuss the results to make sure you agree with them. Do you feel like your personality is well-represented? If so, why? If not, why not?

The initial meeting will be dedicated to getting to know you from a personal and psychological standpoint. We’ll discuss your goals for the memoir and how you’d like to approach it. Of course, you can change your mind about this at any time.

2. Weekly or Bi-weekly Meetings

We’ll meet to discuss the events you want to focus on. My psychological training has equipped me to catch the subtleties of your experiences and my writer’s brain knows how to ask the right questions.

These meetings will be recorded (with your permission) on an external device. The recordings will never be uploaded onto a computer, phone, or anywhere that they could be vulnerable to leakage.

Furthermore, after the memoir is completed, all recordings will be wiped from the face of the earth. 

3. Chapter by Chapter

Once I’ve got enough material to start writing, I’ll get to work on the first chapter. When it’s done, I’ll send it to you to get your thoughts. It’s a back and forth process and any changes you’d like to make to tone, style, or emphasis can be identified.

Once we’ve finalized the first chapter, we’ll start on the second one, and so on, and so forth. 

4. Your Complete Memoir

You’ll receive your completed memoir and can share it with your loved ones or have it published. Whatever you choose to do with your life story is your business. 

Write Your Memoir Gift

Hiring personal historian services or memoir writing services is the perfect way to honor someone’s life. Whether they’ve passed already or are looking to recollect their life’s most precious moments to achieve catharsis, memoir writing services are a great option.

Hire a Memoir Writer 

As a creative writer with a background in psychology at a top European university, I’m confident that I can artistically capture your story the way you’d like to tell it. Among the current memoir writing services available, none have the advantage of a strong psychological background. 

To get a free quote or a private link to my literary portfolio, contact me. I’ll get back to you without delay and help you write your life story.

You won’t find another memoir company or memoir website that will delve as deep as I will. Contact me to find out more.

Memoir Ghostwriting Services

Vipassana Meditation: The Art of Living

Vipassana meditation is a technique of Buddhist meditation that can induce and facilitate transformative experiences for an individual. It carries with it a rich history of enlightening many people and being lost and found several times over. It is most famously known as the method of meditation that Gautama Buddha used when he became enlightened under the tree.

Vipassana meditation is a technique of Buddhist meditation that can induce and facilitate transformative experiences for an individual.

It carries with it a rich history of enlightening many people and being lost and found several times over. It is most famously known as the method of meditation that Gautama Buddha used when he became enlightened under the tree.

The aim of the technique is to liberate oneself from the suffering that Buddhists claim to be intrinsic in life, to be able to remain objective in the face of physical and mental pain and to generate compassion for all living beings through loving-kindness meditation.

Perhaps, you’ve heard about Vipassana before but are not really sure what exactly it entails. Keep reading, we are going to go into detail about the history, the philosophy, and the technique itself.

We are also going to tell the story of S.N. Goenka, the man who made it possible for people everywhere to learn this technique for free at Vipassana meditation retreat centres around the world.

vipassana meditation

The History of Vipassana Meditation

The word ‘vipassana’ literally means ‘bare sight’ or ‘to see things as they really are’. It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It is said to have existed long before Gautama the Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama himself, who live from the fifth to the fourth century BCE.

Gautama Buddha was revered as an enlightened being (Buddha) that rediscovered the technique and ancient path of training the mind to transcend craving and aversion. This path is also known as ‘Dhamma’ or ‘Dharma’.  

As the story goes, Siddhartha Gautama renounced his life as the son of aristocratic parents and dedicated himself to the path of enlightenment. Being utterly motivated to achieve enlightenment and understand the realm of pain, he sat beneath a tree and made a strong determination that he would not move until he became fully enlightened.

This tree, ‘the Bodhi Tree’ still stands today in Bihar, India, though its age is visible, and it is decaying at a steady pace, dying little by little each day.

So, at the age of 35 he became enlightened, and having experienced the wonderful fruits of Dhamma first-hand, he decided to dedicate his life to teaching the Vipassana technique to anyone who cared to learn. He spent the next 45 years of his life teaching the technique, and when he took his last breath at the age of 80, he was still teaching it to an eager individual at the side of his death bed.

Though Gautama Buddha is famously known as the founder of the Buddhist religion, he did not consider the technique of Vipassana a sectarian technique, which only devotees of Buddhism could learn. He considered it a universal technique of following the breath and observing oneself, that anyone, from any religion, group. or sect, could learn and benefit from.

Among his devotees were members of many religious groups, but suffering is a universal experience, and liberation a universal possibility.

S.N Goenka – The Rediscovery of Vipassana Meditation

S.N Goenka, also known to Vipassana old students as ‘Goenka Ji’ was a Burmese businessman. While religion was (and still is) a big part of Burmese life, he himself was not especially religious. Having grown up in a conservative Hindu household, he associated religion with the practice of rites, rituals, and devotion. After finding the Vipassana meditation technique, he renounced them, deeming them as unpractical and unhelpful.

S.N Goenka met Vipassana meditation in an unlikely way. As previously mentioned, he was a businessman, concerned primarily with material existence and success. At some point in his business career, he began having agonizing migraines.

He visited many doctors, even travelling the globe in search of one who could resolve his problem but found no answers. Many doctors suggested that his problems were of a psychosomatic nature, as none were able to find an alternative root cause for the pain he was enduring.

In desperation, and developing a dependence on morphine, which he used to combat the pain, he turned to a friend who advised him to try this technique of meditation.

At that time, Vipassana meditation had largely died out, but a small group of teachers in Myanmar were still teaching the tradition. This friend probed Goenka to try it, seeing as there were no other options, he decided to give it a go.

Like now, at the time, learning the Vipassana meditation technique involved going to a meditation retreat centre for 10-days to learn the technique from start to finish. Goenka, after two days of meditation, became frustrated and agitated.

He was convinced that this technique was not for him, discouraged by how difficult he found it to sit and meditate, he started to leave. As he was leaving a friend stopped him, appealing to his better nature, begging him to stay and finish what he has started.

In the end, he stayed and finished the retreat. Not only did his migraines, which were so terribly painful and persistent finally disappear, but he felt as though he has gained true insight into the nature of life. He felt cured, not only from his physical ills but from the psychological disturbances that caused them.

After that, he used the money he made in his career as a businessman to set up more centres like this one. He made it so that anyone who wanted to learn the technique could come to do so for free, as the centres worked purely on a donation-based system.

Vipassana Meditation Today – The Silent Meditation Retreat

Today, thanks to the initial efforts of S.N Goenka, there are many of these Vipassana meditation centres around the world.

A Vipassana meditation retreat consists of spending ten days in noble silence, foregoing all contact with the outside world, all forms of entertainment, speech, and anything else you can think of.

The meditation schedule begins at four-thirty in the morning, with ten hours of meditation each day, for ten days.

Chicken Bone Broth – History, Benefits & How-to

Chicken bone broth has become one of the most sought after, talked about, and consumed foods in the health food industry. Considering the benefits of chicken bone broth, it seems fair to say that the hype is there for good reason. It is one of humanity’s most quintessential dishes and has withstood the test of time, passing it with flying colours.

When looking into the history of chicken bone broth one quickly finds that every corner of the globe has its own origin story to tell. It’s difficult to say with full certainty when and where it originated, but it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to presume that whoever has chickens might naturally come to the conclusion that they can be used in soups.

In this article we are going to discuss all things bone broth. We are interested in the different histories around bone broth, the health benefits of bone broth and about making the dish.

The History of Chicken Soup

One particular icon of chicken soup is Campbell’s canned chicken soup. Many people credit them for being the first to create the famous combination of chicken soup and noodles in 1934.

While I’m sure they played a part in popularizing it, probably with a very powerful marketing campaign, let be real here, they definitely didn’t create the combination. Let go through some of the most popular histories of chicken soup or chicken bone broth.

The ‘Jewish Penicillin’

Maimonides was a medieval Jewish philosopher who famously coined the term ‘Jewish penicillin’ for chicken soup. In his work, ‘On the Causes of Symptoms’, he credits chicken soup with healing powers for everything from asthma to leprosy. Chicken soup is still an essential dish in Jewish cuisine, along with many others.

Bone Broth in Chinese Medicine

Bone broth has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2500 years. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) bone broth is used to revitalize the kidneys and is said to nourish the vital force or Qi.

Bone Broth in Ancient Greece

Chicken bone broth was also popular in with the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, the father of medicine often recommended it to people as an effective means of cleansing the digestive organs.

. . . .. and since prehistoric times

Throwing away any part of an animal would have been unconceivable to our hungry, prehistoric ancestors. Researchers have found evidence of humans storing bones to eat later as early as 420,000 years ago.

The Benefits of Bone Broth

As we have seen, bone broths have always been considered somehow medicinal. There many health benefits make them a wonderful dish for sick days.

1. Digestive Health

A good bone broth is one that has been simmering long enough, leeches collagen from the bones. If done successfully, it should turn into gelatine when refrigerated. As gelatine naturally attracts and holds water, it also binds to the water on the digestive tract. This helps with digestion and also combats ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut

2. Great Nutritional Value of Bone Broth

Animal bones contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain other trace minerals that are necessary for keeping bones strong and healthy.

They also contain vitamins A & K2, zinc, iron, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Last but not least, they also contain high amounts of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body.

Collagen makes up 30% of all the protein in the human body. It’s responsible for maintaining healthy skin, bones, and joints. It also contributes to a strong immune system.

3. Easy-to-make

While making a good bone broth can be a long process, it’s quite effortless. If you’re working from home or have a safe way to slow cook while you sleep, you’ll barely even notice the process.

How to Make Bone Broth

While there may be any number of variations for making bone broth, with these basics you will be on your way to creating this historically famous and nutritionally beneficial dish.

  • Source Good Bones

In general, it’s recommended to use organic bones for your homemade bone broth. Not sourcing bones from grass-fed cows or pasture-raised chickens could mean risking toxic levels of lead in your broth.

  • Keep Vegetable Scraps

Don’t throw away your tomato stalks, the ends of celery, onion skins, and other parts of vegetables that are usually hard to use. Instead, keep them in a zip lock bag in the freezer until you’re ready to make your next bone broth.

  • Using Vinegar

Using vinegar in your bone broth helps to break down and leech out the collagen. This is arguably the most beneficial part of the bones, so don’t skip this step. We recommend using apple cider vinegar as it has a less offensive taste and comes with its own health benefits!

  • Cook Long, Cook Slow

When cooking your broth, remember that you are not trying to boil the hell out of the. You should keep it on a low simmer with small air bubbles cropping up from time to time.

The question of how long to cook bone broth for is debatable. Some people say 12 hours, some 24 and some even say 48 hours. In general, after about 7 – 12 hours you can generally be sure that your broth is high in those wonderful nutrients we spoke of.

Chicken bone broth is one of humanities most quintessential dishes. It has a rich history and is equally rich in nutritional value. It’s easy to make, cost-effective and simply wonderful. If you haven’t yet, give it a try!

A Short Excerpt from my ‘Thoughtful Review of Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning”

One of the profound insights that are offered to readers in Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ is the experience of an incredible perspective shift as to the nature and quality of one’s life.

Consider that we are preoccupied with the contents of our existence, our work schedule, daily goals, life goals, past achievements, future plans, the clothes we wear, our hairstyle, our diets, our visual shape, too much fat here, too little muscle there. Alongside those mental lyrics are floating notions of the people in our lives, the quality of our relationships, partners, parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances, people who mean literally nothing to us, people we find distasteful and maybe even enemies. We further occupy ourselves with thoughts of status, money, worldly achievements, who we will remain to be when death strikes the final blow. Did we fulfill the fairy tale of glory?

By contrast, there is this reality of concentration camps, monuments of the physical torture and psychological torment that human beings inflict upon each other. Within concrete walls are genuine sadist savouring pain, starvation, infectious rotting bodies stacking up and decomposing within constant sight and reach, glaring neon evil looming over sick, dying, traumatized human creatures in every second of every day.

Such things, we never even consider might enter the landscape of our own lives, except for in the vaguest ways, such as an occasional violent and intrusive thought. Yet, they offer us the rare opportunity to reconsider our lives through the lens of a cold and brutal light. A light that subsequently transforms itself into a glow of infinite warmth and appreciation. It highlights, by means of stark contrast, the things which are so beautiful to us and in the constant reach of our immediate environment.  

In exchange for a degree of mental and emotional sensitivity ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ gives readers the gift of finding eternal bliss within one’s grasp. Reading Frankl’s story and thesis, I found myself pondering whether it is perhaps only by a certain depth of processing that sensitivity is present. The sensitivity to temporarily sacrifice a portion of comfort to try to viscerally realize the horror of such stories.

Contrastingly, Frankl illustrates instances of how an inner function of sensitivity enriched life within the concentration camps.

He states, ‘In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen. Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom’.

Episode 3 – Wudang Tao with Jake Pinnick

In this episode I have a conversation with Jake Pinnick, Jake is a Taoist Kung Fu coach in Wudang China, the birthplace of Taoism. There, he has been living, both training and teaching for about 10 years.
Jake was trained the traditional way in the first and only 5-year training program for westerners taught by Master Yuan Xiu Gang.
Here we talk about the Taoist philosophy and lifestyle and how it compares to other schools of eastern thought, about his training experience in Wu dang, and we talk a bit about keeping the balance in daily life.

In this episode of the Cerebro Somata Podcast I have a conversation with Jake Pinnick, Jake is a Taoist kung fu coach in Wu dang China, the birthplace of Taoism, where he has been living both training and teaching for about 10 years.

Jake was trained the traditional way in the first and only ever 5-year training program for westerners taught by Master Yuan Xiu Gang.

Here we talk about the Taoist philosophy and lifestyle and how it compares to other schools of eastern thought, about his training experience in Wu dang, and we talk a bit about keeping the balance in daily life.

So, I hope you enjoy the conversation and don’t forget if you do like it, like the video or subscribe to the channel. Be notified when I upload some new talks, there are some really interesting ones coming next so if you like this kind of stuff, stay in touch.

Episode 2 – Psychedelics, Science & Spirituality

Marion Gildea is a Master’s research intern in the field of Psychedelic Medicine at Imperial College London. In this podcast conversation, we discuss the current position of psychedelic research, its potential for clinical usage, depth psychology, and spirituality.
We discuss the subconscious mind as a sort of unknown entity that dictates behaviour from unseen corners, and how different approaches, including modern psychology and ancient Buddhist philosophy view this phenomenon.

In this episode I speak with Marion Gildea, a Master’s research intern in the field of Psychedelic Medicine at Imperial College London.

In this conversation, we discuss the current position of psychedelic research, its potential for clinical usage, depth psychology, and spirituality. We discuss the subconscious mind as a sort of unknown entity that dictates behaviour from unseen corners of the psyche, and how different approaches, including modern psychology and ancient Buddhist philosophy approach this phenomenon.

We go into detail about psychedelic research, what the experience is like for psychedelic research volunteers who participate in psychedelic research. We discuss the essence of the spiritual experience that often accompanies being under the influence of psychedelics, and the difficulty in reconciling those feelings with our scientific understanding of the nature of reality.

Still being in the early days of podcasting, please forgive the sound quality. We will be looking toward making a number of improvements as time goes by and hope it doesn’t stop you from enjoying the conversation all the same.

If this is something you are interested in, I encourage to follow or subscribe to the website. Alternatively, you could like our Facebook page, as all published material will be posted there!

The Cerebro Somata Podcast!

Dear Followers & Subscribers,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to express my thanks for everyone who has taken the interest and initiative to follow the blog so far. It has been a tremendous confidence boost to find that there are people who find the content enjoyable and valuable enough to follow.

I’d like to announce that Cerebro Somata have started a podcast! Check out the first one on the podcast section of our site!

A conversation with Emmet Byrne and Iwan Blake. Emmet is finishing his PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Edinburgh, where he studies simulations for the LHC. Iwan is finishing his PhD in particle physics at Oxford University. He is part of a team studying neutrinos. In this podcast, we talk about physics in the broader context, alongside significant developments over the decades. They explain the importance of the recent results from the Fermilab muon experiment, which has been referred to as the discovery of a possible ‘fifth fundamental element of the universe’.

 We have several more incredibly interesting guests lined up, among them are several authors and researchers. See below for more details on the upcoming these guests.

Upcoming Guests!

Wouter Kusters, philosopher and author of ‘A philosophy of Madness, published by MIT Press. Wouter is a former linguist who transitioned over into the field of philosophy. While working on his research about mental disturbance, he induced himself into acute psychosis, for which he was hospitalized. This happened twice in his life and contributed to his 2004, 770 page book  ‘A philosophy of madness’, about which he says ‘“I wanted to show to next generations what the pleasure, problems and pitfalls of philosophy are: its truths, its paradoxes, and the possibility of its concomitant real-life psychotic experiences, metaphorical high mountains and deep abysses. ‘

If you are interested in hearing more about his story, please feel free to check out this articles, written about him by the Irish Times. https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/what-s-it-like-to-go-mad-meet-the-man-who-found-out-1.4521054

Marion Gildea is a research Masters and intern working in the field of psychedelic medicine with a prominent research group in London.  We share a lot of the same interests and ideas and for those interested in topics such as psychedelics, meditation, psychology, neuroscience and community living, this will be a great dynamic conversation to tune into.

Ray Tobin is currently in the editorial phase of publishing his autobiographical book about his very unique life. He spent 18 years of his life under the wing of the MEK, an Islamic cult in Iraq, also responsible to the death of his father, who they interrogated on suspicion of being a spy. He will be joining us for a conversation to share the details of his life then and now. Stay tuned for this one!

Sheunesu Kasiamhuru author of ‘the Art of Decisive Leadership’ which is expected to be published and on the shelves this August. He will take us through his 9 principles of decisive leadership and how they relate to key events in history and how they can be applied today. For more information about Sheunesu and his work, please visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-art-of-decisive-leadership#/

Stefano Andrianopoulos is a full-time artist with a strong background in Taosim and Taoist Kung Fu. He spent a year living and training in a Traditional Taoist Kung Fu Academy, in Wu Dang China (where we met each other). He trained under Master Yuan Xiu Gang, who is said the be the current figure head for Taosim, later deciding to become his disciple. He is now a 16th generation Taoist of the San Feng Sect.

Stay Tuned!

We’re very excited about these upcoming conversations and hope that you will tune in for them! We are happy to take constructive criticism at this time, so please feel free to send us a message letting us know what you think. We are also open to guest ideas, so if you or someone you know thinks they are a right fit for our podcast, please reach out and let us know!

Pushing Up Daisies: Mindfulness & Death Anxiety

A deep reflection on approaches toward death. A review of popular theories on death anxiety with a scientifically supported narrative on the role of mindfulness in death-related anxiety.

Death is one of those topics of conversation that really illustrates the starkly contrasting and fundamentally different ways of approaching life. Some people (including me) can’t seem to get it off their minds, off the tip of their tongue. It is the backdrop of every scene of our lives, every decision we make is driven by the engine of death-related thoughts. We perpetually try to solve the puzzle of how to die peacefully, how to die painlessly and how to deal with grief when it comes, if it hasn’t already. Others suppress it, avoiding thinking and talking about it at basically all costs, understandably, not wanting to engage in painful, morbid topics of discussion.

Recently, I have become obsessively interested in what all of this might mean, namely, what the meaning behind these differing strategies toward death-related thoughts might be. I kept noticing how differently people react to death being brought up in conversation. I found it equally disturbing as I did interesting how bringing up death in a discussion could lead one person to become so viscerally angry with me for ‘ruining the vibe’ while with another person, it can generate profound and engaging conversations. What is the fundamental difference between these two kinds of people? How does it correspond with other areas of life?

As part of a research project at university, I chose to study this exact topic, and I would like to share my findings with you here. Of course, if you are the kind of person that feels your skin crawl when you hear the word ‘death’, you may have already stopped reading. If you haven’t, however, I would urge you to try to bear it until the end of this article, as you might well find something useful in it.

The findings from my research support the hypothesis that mindful processing, rather than suppression of death-related thoughts, results in better life outcomes. Results from studies I have reviewed support this finding, within the framework of an old and broadly cited theory of death anxiety, Terror Management Theory.

Terror Management Theory

This theory posits that we humans have an underlying awareness of our own mortality, which serves as a source of devastating anxiety that is largely repressed and combatted against. To buffer against this anxiety or terror, we place great importance on our cultural worldview and self-esteem, in a sort of attempt to achieve immortality through legacy.

The meaning, structure, and sense of belonging we achieve by acting and thinking in such ways that boost our self-esteem, front as a sort of protective shield against the truthful notion of our own mortality. I have come across several professors who seem to find this theory rather distasteful, but I cannot, for the life of me, understand why.

Terror management theory has been supported in over 400 empirical studies, across more than 20 countries. To me, this vast range of support is suggestive that this strategy towards mortality salience (death awareness) is in some sense universal, given that it is relatively easy to detect in individuals cross-culturally. However, is it the optimal approach to thoughts of death?

The Problem with Disregarding Death


Science is often regarded as the most effective method of uncovering the truth. Whether that truth is of a pleasant or unpleasant nature is irrelevant in the wake of objectivity. In another sense, there is nothing truer than the fact that we are mortal, yet many of us actually use a certain level of our cognitive computational power to suppress this harrowing fact of life, the fact of death.

We differ from all other species with regards to our awareness of our inevitable death. It is not obvious what the evolutionary purpose of this awareness might be (if there even is one) but what is clear is that the system of death-related thought suppression that is in place in many of us with regards to this topic, is not the optimal strategy that could be employed. What is clear is that there are some real consequences involved in abiding by the normative taboo in discussing and reflecting upon death.

One heart-breaking example of the dire consequences of this taboo comes from a story of a 94-year-old man, in the intensive care unit in John Hopkins hospital, who has become too frail to speak for himself. His daughter, when confronted by the case doctor and asked, ‘Did you ever plan for what should be done should a situation like this arise?’, responded with disgust and shock at the doctor’s question saying ‘of course not!’ in an offended tone.

This is just one real-life example of the statistic that only 1 in 200 people have a plan set in place for their family after they die, and only 1 in 500 people have a plan in place for if they become too frail to represent themselves (which is what will happen to most of us).

Given that these are obviously not ideal circumstances (to be so unprepared), there seems to be some very consequential dissonance between outcomes we would rather have in life and the normative model we use. For all its faults and follies, religion presented one positive thing for humans, in that its promotion of an afterlife buffered us against death anxiety. Since the western departure from religion during the scientific revolution, what have we done to replace this buffer?

If indeed Terror Management Theory is an accurate description, it would suggest that we have simply opted to zoom in to our self-esteem, dedicating our mental faculties to becoming evermore egocentric. This theory becomes far easier to swallow when we simply look around to see how people behave on social media, platforms for people to write their autobiographical story, in which the immortal legacy of their characters and work surpass our physical mortality in importance.

The Dual Process Model of Terror Management

So, terror management theory says that we suppress thoughts of death and buffer against death anxiety using self-esteem. You might be wondering exactly how that works in real-time. The dual-process model of terror management takes a closer look at the dynamics of how that works.

This model basically says that we use two defence types when faced with mortality salience cues. The first defence type, known as proximal (immediate) defences, get activated immediately after being exposed to a ‘mortality salience cue’. A mortality salience cue is just some external stimulus that prompts awareness of death, a picture of a coffin. for example.

The common proximal defence that people used in the studies that tested this model were people’s intention to engage in health behaviours. In other words, when people were faced with death cues, they combatted the anxiety by promising themselves to live healthier lives by say, quitting smoking, exercising more or eating a healthier diet. The end goal of proximal defences is to get these death-related thoughts out of conscious awareness, as fast and effectively as possible.

When this happens, the second defence type becomes active, the distal defence (measured after a delay period). Distal defences come into play when death thoughts are outside the scope of focal attention, but still ‘accessible’. These defences focus on promoting the image of the symbolic self, promoting self-esteem. Interestingly, and to further support terror management theory as a whole, people with lower self-esteem reported higher levels of death anxiety when measured after this delay period.

The Role of Mindfulness in Death Anxiety


Mindfulness is the backbone of eastern philosophy, it has roots in all schools of Buddhism, Yoga and Taoism. It can be defined as the objective awareness of the present moment. The psychological and physical health benefits of mindfulness and meditation are not anything new. It has been occupying the attention of many psychological researchers since its stance to popularity in recent years. It has been studied both in basic and clinical settings.

Due to the nature of this concept, it has been difficult to study it as a psychological construct. Some have more of a propensity toward mindfulness than others, yet it can also be effectively learned through the practice of meditation. A recent study came up with a new measure of trait mindfulness, referred to as ‘end-state mindfulness’. This is the tendency of an individual to see things as they are in the moment, without attaching subjective judgments to perceptual experiences.

This ‘end state mindfulness’ was found, in the same study, to be negatively correlated with rumination, thought suppression and neuroticism. It was also found to moderate the negative effect usually associated with the exposure of mortality salience cues.

Mindfulness can be thought of as an exemplar of the experiential mode of conscious processing (Teasdale*, 1999), which seems to be a formidably opposing force to terror management, which aims to suppress.

In line with this conceptualization of mindfulness, a series of experiments and studies examined whether trait mindfulness reduced the defensive responses to death awareness cues. It turns out it does. Results from these studies showed the positive relationship between mindfulness and self-esteem, the usual buffer against thoughts of death. But rather than buffering, it was shown that mindfulness predicted reduced suppression of death, and those who scored higher on trait mindfulness, spent longer when doing a writing exercise about their own death. They were more willing to sit down and consciously process thoughts of dying.

This series of seven studies were the first to examine the role of mindfulness in terror management theory, and collectively they show that mindfulness reduces the engagement in both proximal and distal defences. Rather they promote the unbiased, conscious processing of death. Mindfulness has been shown to increase our empathy and concern for others  and promote the endorsement of intrinsic (personal growth and development), rather than extrinsic (wealth and status) goals.

This becomes very interesting when we look at the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation and subjective feeling of life satisfaction in the face of death awareness. One recent study found that those with more extrinsic goal orientations were more likely to process these cues as unpleasant threats and those with more intrinsic goal orientations were more likely to experience them as meaningful reflective experiences. This suggests that mindfulness is a contrasting strategy to terror management strategy that results in a qualitatively better attitude toward both life and death.

So, on one end of the spectrum, you have people that suppress thoughts of dying, they rely on the quality of their self-esteem to combat death anxiety. This is unfortunate for people will less self-esteem because they are likely to experience greater levels of death-related anxiety. On the other end of the spectrum, you have mindful people, who process thoughts of dying consciously and deliberately. They are not only more empathic people but they also (because of having intrinsic goal orientations) report higher levels of life satisfaction. People who process death reflectively are also more likely to engage in prosocial behaviour in the workplace compared to their anxious counterparts, who withdraw and engage in self-protective behaviours.

Last thoughts

The thing is, we are all going to die, and so is everyone we know. Many of them will go before us and we will be left to deal with the grief of their absence. We have every right to be anxious about death, it’s the worst possible thing, that will definitely happen to all of us. Although, just because it’s painful to think about, it doesn’t mean that we should just avoid thinking about it all together. As illustrated in the above example of the 94-year-old man, never having a conversation with his daughter about the possibility of him dying, we can see how this can lead to undesirable outcomes.

Mindfulness has proven its mettle for being capable of bringing improvement and positivity to so many areas of human life, quelling death anxiety is no exception. If we know that this mindful processing of death related thoughts leads us to have greater subjective feelings of life satisfaction, more empathy for others and be more prosocial to those we work with, why would we choose to continue suppressing thoughts of death?

Of course, many of the studies mentioned above were correlational in nature, and as social psychological studies (which often are not replicable) the result should be taken tentatively.

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Greenberg, J. P. (1997). Terror management theory of self-esteem and cultural. Academic Press.

Goldenberg, N. A. (2011). No atheists in foxholes: Arguments for (but not against) afterlife belief buffers mortality salience effects for atheists. British Journal of Social Psychology

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Andrew A. Abeyta, J. J. (2014). Exploring the effects of self-esteem and mortality salience on
proximal and distally measured death anxiety

Tom Pyszczynski, J. G. (1999). A Dual-Process Model of Defense Against Conscious and
Unconscious. e American Psychological Association, Inc.

Brown, K. W. (2005). Are psychological and ecological well-being compatible? The role of values,
mindfulness, and lifestyle. Social Indicators Research, 74, 349–368

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Niemiec, C. P. (2010). Being Present in the Face of Existential Threat: The Role of Trait. American Psychological Association

Vail, K. E. (2019). Pushing up daisies: Goal orientations, death awareness, and satisfaction with life.

Grant, A. (2009). The Hot and Cool of Death Awareness at Work: Mortality Cues, Aging, and Self-Protective and Prosocial Motivations

Artificial Intelligence: The Echo of Consciousness

Since the development of the first artificial intelligence program in 1955, artificial intelligence has made its way into many areas of human life. In recent years there have been massive developments with artificial intelligence in healthcare, artistic creativity, even the judicial system. Many people have been of the assumption that we would only live to see it potentially overtake the labour of the blue-collar workforce.

Developments in computer programming show that artificial intelligence can carry out and provide support in certain fields of work that are otherwise known for requiring years of training and expertise.

Many ethical questions arise when we start to consider how we should embrace AI. If we want to allow it to become a substitute for human labourers, we should perhaps equally consider where those people will go. Do we as a global society have the economic infrastructure to support masses of replaced workers in the population? Do we have the framework set it place so that they can create a life for themselves where they can live well, rather than just be sunken in unemployment and destitution?

Furthermore, if artificial intelligence reaches human-level intelligence, and becomes entirely capable of responding to the environment, at least in the same way we do, is it conscious? Should it be treated as otherwise equal to a human from an ethical standpoint? What is consciousness anyway and how do we measure it?

Rather than being able to comprehensively answer these questions, this article is intended as a source of background information on the subject, to give you the opportunity to think it over for yourself.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is generally defined as ‘any computer program that is capable of carrying tasks that otherwise require human intelligence’. More specifically, tasks that include complex cognition, such as visual perception, language comprehension, and decision making.

It was first developed in 1955 by Herbert Simon and Allen Newell, two researchers who combined their collective knowledge in the fields of computer science, cognitive psychology, and economics to create the Logic Theorist.

This program was designed to echo human problem-solving skills, to solve advanced mathematical theorems. Today, over half a century later of trials, failures, successes, and periods of staggering exponential growth, we live in a world of self-driving cars and AI customer service. A world where we wake up every day and direct all our questions to AI-powered search engines.

It’s always an interesting thing to hear other people’s views and expectations of AI in the future. I find that people have such a vast range of things to say on the subject. Some people are terrified that AI will take over the world, their skills will become obsolete, and that we will gear towards a world bereft of human values.

Others look forward eagerly, hoping for a world where they can download their human consciousness onto a drive and outlive their bodies, bypassing a natural death. Many fantasize of a future where we will have AI’s living in our houses, so that they can aid us by taking over the responsibility of doing mundane tasks, effectively, being our mechanical slaves.

Few people imagined that they might be the doctors that meet us at the clinic, to prescribe us medicine or surgery when we’re ill. Fewer people saw the possibility that artificial intelligence could be the psychologist listening to us speak about our deepest feelings and experiences, offering us counsel or administering a diagnosis.

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

One very noteworthy example of artificial intelligence shining its light of utility is with predicting malignant breast cancer. When a doctor sees an unusual spot on a mammography (breast scan), they need to make the decision whether to operate or not. Of course, the safest thing to do would be to operate, in case the tumour turns malignant and cancerous. However, surgery can be extremely taxing on an individual and it seems a great shame to have to undergo an operation when it’s not strictly necessary.

When a human is trying to plan in response to a complex problem, we try to take as much data into account as possible. A doctor in this situation might try to remember everything they learned about tumour shape and size, comparing this case to all past cases they’ve encountered in their career. They might try to consider the genetic variables related to the case, whether breast cancer runs in the family, and so on. They might also consider the patient’s age, lifestyle, and diet as factors for whether this particular tumour is likely to turn malignant or not.

The general fear factor of misdiagnosing, telling a patient that they don’t need surgery when it later turns out that they do, could also play a role. So, it can turn out that many people who don’t really need the surgery end up getting it anyway, as a result of human bias, misdirected caution, and error.

The key difference between the human prediction power and the prediction power of artificial intelligence is working memory. Working memory refers to the conscious part of memory when information is accessible for controlling the execution of tasks. Human beings have a very limited working memory. The rule of thumb for how many things a person can keep in their conscious mind at one time is +/- 7 items. This means it can vary between 5 and 9 items depending on the individual and the context.

We can only actively process a certain amount of data at a given moment. With artificial intelligence, the amount of data they can process is effectively limitless, and they can process it in an instant. Communication between neurons (brain cells) is extremely fast, which is why we don’t really sense delays when picking something up after deciding to or responding to a comment. However, compared to our artificial counterparts, who can process information at the speed of light (yes, the speed of light!) we are considerably slower.

When considering how important large data samples are for achieving accurate predictions, we can see a great disparity between how well people can do, and how much better it could possibly get.

Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Psychology

Here we need to define two terms: clinical prediction and mechanical prediction.

Clinical prediction is when a clinician, in the following case, a clinical psychologist makes a prediction about a person’s disorder. What disorder it is and how it will develop over time. They do this by employing their expertise and years of experience.

Mechanical predictions are basically predictions that are made using statistics and algorithms. While humans can do mathematical equations by hand, they can’t process the same amount of data that computer programs can. Considering this, the following meta-analysis review is kind of a computer versus human situation.

A meta-analysis that examined a bunch of studies that had measured the difference in accuracy between clinical and mechanical prediction found that ‘’ mechanical prediction often outshines clinical prediction; that is, when it is not superior, it performs as well as clinical prediction’’.

They found that the variable that influenced the observation that mechanical prediction outperformed human prediction, was when there had been a clinical interview. The clinical interview, the cause of error.

According to these results, a computer program would be more accurate in analysing the nature and development of a patient’s condition. They propose that the human contact between psychologist and client was the main source of error, which affected the diagnosis and prognosis. This would theoretically be a good argument for substituting (at least to some degree) a therapist with an AI program. If they are more accurate, why not? Well . . .

Imagine a person you know is suicidal, they have been suffering from psychological disturbances for quite some time, perhaps crippling anxiety or depression, and are literally at their wit’s end. Imagine that they might be in the process of coaxing themselves to the conclusion that no life at all is better than the life of suffering that they have been enduring.

They call an emergency suicide hotline and are met by a calm, clear, and robotic voice. The last sliver of hope is spent on an artificial system that feigns human concern. While I do not want to be so outright cynical about that quite real possibility, I simply can’t imagine that in particular cases like this, that an AI system could be at all comforting. It could very well have the opposite effect, who knows. These are all things to be considered as we edge our way toward an AI-prevalent world.

Artificial Intelligence & Creativity

Well, if you have made it this far in the article and are enjoying it, then I’m excited to engage you in this next part. Separately, creativity and artificial intelligence are considerably interesting topics. Combined, they are equally, if not, even more interesting.

What is Creativity?

There are many different definitions of creativity out there, sometimes they differ depending on the context. For example, when you describe a person as being creative it isn’t the same as when you describe it as a psychological construct or as a cognitive ability. Many artists conceptualize it in their own subjective ways too.

But it’s generally defined like this: the ability to create something that is both novel and useful. Interesting questions that I will attempt to provide some insight to here are How does creativity work in people? How does creativity work in AI? How are they similar or different?

Creativity and Brain Networks

A network in the brain refers to when several spatially distant areas (bits that aren’t close together) in the brain are activated at the same time in a particular kind of state or when doing a particular kind of task.

The default mode network refers to a set of brain areas that are activated when we are endorsed in ‘self-generated’ thoughts, among other things. It is the neural mechanism involved in daydreaming and mind wandering. When people are thinking about their life in an autobiographical way this network gets activated.

As fun and lovely as this network sounds at face value, it is actually correlated with a lot of psychological pathologies, such as anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour, even schizophrenia. It is also seen to be abnormal in Alzheimer’s sufferers, they seem to somehow lose the ability to manipulate the activation and deactivation of this network like most people can using their conscious attention.

The creative process has long been presumed by creativity researchers to have two stages. The idea generation stage (where the creative thought puffs into the mind) and the idea evaluation stage (analysing the idea deeper).

The default mode network is active during idea generation and during idea evaluation, something very interesting happens. A second network, a network that has a famously antagonistic relationship with the default mode network, starts to work together with it.

This central executive network is usually active when you are doing things like planning, analysing, and organising. Usually, these two networks cannot both be active at the same time, it’s usually either one or the other. However, in this particular instance, they stop ‘fighting’ each other and work in synchrony. Highly creative people have much stronger functional connectivity between these two brain networks.

There are many different manifestations of creativity in artificial intelligence, depending a lot on how they were programmed to begin with. If they were programmed with a particular goal in mind, or with rules in place, their creativity would go in that direction, or work within the permitted framework.

Researchers have implicated this same neural arrangement of creativity in artificial intelligence. There are programs designed that exhibit this same network conflict and harmonization, similar to how the default mode and central executive network operate in human creativity.

In the same way, artificial intelligence can only be creative according to its programming and because of being exposed to a particular data set, human beings can generally only be creative according to their genetic code and the things that they have experienced in life. It is always some combination of something that already exists in the mind, and our genetic makeup is analogous to a computer program, and the data set is analogous to our past experiences.

Creative artificial intelligence programs can create abstract art, write songs and write scripts for movies. Many music corporations already employ AI to generate new pop songs, is it any wonder they all sound the same?

Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness

The question of ‘Can artificial intelligence ever be conscious?’ is difficult to answer, the scientific community is having a hell of a hard time trying to understand consciousness as it is. It’s a complicated topic, full of dead ends and spirals of uncertainty when just considering humans.

What is consciousness anyway? You know that you are conscious, and you know that it is what gives birth to your experience of existing. It is the source of every little thing that you do, say, and decide. It’s somehow silent, yet loud, omnipotent, yet nowhere, familiar, yet intangible.

It’s usually described as ‘the state or experience of being aware and responsive to one’s environment’. The word state is important here as it implies there is an experience underlying the responsiveness to the environment.  Artificial intelligence is perfectly capable of responding to the surrounding environment, it is effectively able to see, hear, analyse and respond, in much the same way that we do. However, there’s nothing to suggest an underlying state or experience. But even if there was an underlying consciousness, we have no real idea how we would go about testing that.

The topic has proved to be quite the conundrum for science. The investigation of it has been passed around a lot between philosophers, doctors, psychologists, and neuroscientists. With the science of consciousness, we cannot use any of the usual methods that we have at our disposal, it is extremely difficult to test and measure. How do we measure conscious experience? It’s not even possible to know whether when another person sees a strawberry, they are seeing the same colour ‘red’ that you see. There’s no way for me to know that when you see ‘red’ that you are not in fact seeing me ‘green’. We could have been going our whole lives without even realizing the incongruency. I can know that I am conscious, but I can’t really know that you are conscious, just because you might say ‘trust me, I’m conscious’.

If an AI system one day says ‘I’m conscious and I can experience pain and sadness, I deserve the same rights as humans’, without the proper means of measuring the proclaimed consciousness, we are in something of an ethical predicament.

Researchers have been looking ardently to find a ‘neural correlate of consciousness’, we call this the NCC for short. The neural correlate of consciousness would basically be the part of the brain that implicates consciousness. It’s quite a large topic, so, we will talk more about this in later articles.

When investigating consciousness, science notes two types of problems.

The ‘simple problem’ is the problem of trying to find the physical basis of consciousness (the NCC just mentioned). Where is it? In our brain? What part of the brain is it in? Is it different per individual?

The ‘hard problem’ (named so because of the difficulty in solving it) refers to the problem of understanding WHY we are conscious. Why not just automatic?  Consciousness itself does not seem to be necessary for survival, at least, it certainly isn’t obvious why it would be. So why has evolution endowed us with such a sharp sense of existence? Why the almost painful awareness? Considering that even science is bamboozled by this question, it is really anyone’s guess. Why do you think we are conscious?

According to the theory of ‘panpsychism’, consciousness pervades the universe and is a fundamental feature of it. In a sense, it is a single common feature that connects all things in the universe. Simpler forms of life are thought to have simpler forms of consciousness. Human beings, as complex as we are, are (according to some theories) thought to be the higher end of this spectrum of consciousness.

Last thoughts

Artificial intelligence has the potential to move into many areas of human life. There are both very obvious benefits and areas of the potential hazard. Something that seems key for us to consider is the impact of this on human life and human values. It would be a great shame to simply allow the science to run away with itself without any type of philosophical input. It is less of a distant dream and more of an imminent future, those who are paying attention to the past and ongoing development should have no qualms agreeing with that.

I would like to make a comparison between artificial intelligence and an echo. An echo can resonate with the sound of a human voice. The sound of the echo sounds very much like the human voice that it resonates, but really it is a repetition, as the sound waves bounce off smooth, hard surfaces. For all intents and purposes, whatever is said by the sound of the echo is the same as what the person’s voice has said, but it lacks the conscious starting point. Artificial intelligence is somehow a mirror of human values, at least, a mirror of the values of those who programmed it. It reflects the way we think, the goals we are oriented towards.

Before we get totally carried away with the marvel of this echo of human consciousness and human values, it might be useful to first understand what our values really are, so we can embrace artificial intelligence in the right way and minimize any potentially negative consequences.

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A Very Short History Of Artificial Intelligence

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

International evaluation of an AI system for breast cancer screening

Predicting judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights: a Natural Language Processing perspective

Artificial intelligence and counseling: Four levels of implementation

Clinical versus mechanical prediction: A meta-analysis.

Computer Models of Creativity

Engineering Creativity in an Age of Artificial Intelligence

Generating original ideas: The neural underpinning of originality

The Easy and Hard Problems of Consciousness: A Cartesian Perspective

On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness