Stanford Psychology Podcast
Stanford Psychology Podcast
116 - George Mashour: How Psychedelics Can Shed Light on Consciousness

116 - George Mashour: How Psychedelics Can Shed Light on Consciousness

This week, Julia chats with George Mashour, the Robert B. Sweet Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan. Professor Mashour was the founding director of the University of Michigan Center for Consciousness Science and the Michigan Psychedelic Center. 

In this episode, Julia and Professor Mashour discuss the reinvigorated study of psychedelics and the light it may shed on different dimensions of consciousness. Professor Mashour weighs in on the ongoing normative debate about how psychedelic drugs should be defined. Should they be defined on a molecular level by their mechanism of action in the brain or based upon the subjective experience they produce in the user? 

He relates the results of an exciting recent study that uses psychedelic drugs as a tool to alter normal states of consciousness. This enables him to compare brain network dynamics in these altered states of consciousness with those dynamics in normal states of consciousness and with those in lowered states of consciousness induced by anesthesia. In some ways, this technique allows us to peer into the brain to find out what brain activity is associated with particular experiences. Professor Mashour also offers his perspective on two of the most prominent theories of consciousness and a groundbreaking ongoing adversarial collaboration evaluating them. 

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Professor Mashour’s paper

Professor Mashour’s website

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