Dr. Christopher B. Germann
(Marie Curie Fellow / PhD, MSc, BSc)

Marie Curie Actions

Associated website of the European Commission:

 

Research project #14: Irrationality and decision-making

Project homepage:

Quantum cognition: An epistemological challenge for naïve and local realism

Oral presentation - School of Psychology conference – University of Plymouth – June 2018

Abstract
Quantum cognition is an innovative and interdisciplinary emerging field within the cognitive sciences as, inter alia, evidenced by a recent theme issue published by the Royal Society. It is independent from the widely debated Orch-OR (Orchestrated Objective Reduction) theory formulated by Sir Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff which postulates that quantum processes at the microtubular neuronal level are causative for the emergence of consciousness (cf. Hameroff & Penrose, 2014). Quantum cognition, on the other hand, applies the abstract formalism of quantum mechanics to cognitive processes, e.g., decision-making, perception, memory, conceptual reasoning, language, etc. (e.g., Aerts, Broekaert, & Gabora, 2011; Atmanspacher, 2016; Atmanspacher & Filk, 2013; Pothos & Busemeyer, 2013; Wang, Busemeyer, Atmanspacher, & Pothos, 2013; Yearsley & Pothos, 2014). The vast majority of contemporary models (e.g., those utilising Boolean logic or Bayes' theorem) are grounded on Kolmogorovian probability axioms which stipulate that operators obey commutativity, i.e., P(A∩B)=P(B∩A). By contrast, quantum probability theory is not limited by these aprioristic structural constraints and is able to parsimoniously account for numerous empirical results which appear, prima facie, irrational and paradoxical in the orthodox framework. Recent empirical evidence from experimental quantum physics (e.g., Giustina et al., 2015; Handsteiner et al., 2017; Hensen et al., 2015) is highly pertinent for psychology, neuroscience, and computer science, because it challenges some of the unquestioned assumptions which underlie most of current theorising, viz., naïve and local realism (see Wiseman, 2015). This presentation will briefly review these paradigm-shifting findings and their epistemological and ontological implications. Moreover, I will discuss conceptually related psychophysics experiments conducted in India and the UK during my PhD. Finally, neurochemical processes (specifically 5-HT2A receptor agonism) which underpin open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity will be addressed, as these personality traits are indispensable to appreciate the extensive ramifications of the novel and epistemically challenging results.

  • Aerts, D., Broekaert, J., & Gabora, L. (2011). A case for applying an abstracted quantum formalism to cognition. New Ideas in Psychology, 29(2), 136–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2010.06.002
  • Atmanspacher, H. (2016). Non-commutative structures from quantum physics to consciousness studies. In From Chemistry to Consciousness: The Legacy of Hans Primas (pp. 127–146). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43573-2_8
  • Atmanspacher, H., & Filk, T. (2013). The necker-zeno model for bistable perception. Topics in Cognitive Science, 5(4), 800–817. https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12044
  • Giustina, M., Versteegh, M. A. M., Wengerowsky, S., Handsteiner, J., Hochrainer, A., Phelan, K., … Zeilinger, A. (2015). Significant-Loophole-Free Test of Bell’s Theorem with Entangled Photons. Physical Review Letters, 115(25). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.250401
  • Hameroff, S., & Penrose, R. (2014). Consciousness in the universe: a review of the “Orch OR” theory. Physics of Life Reviews, 11(1), 39–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2013.08.002
  • Handsteiner, J., Friedman, A. S., Rauch, D., Gallicchio, J., Liu, B., Hosp, H., … Zeilinger, A. (2017). Cosmic Bell Test: Measurement Settings from Milky Way Stars. Physical Review Letters, 118(6). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.060401
  • Hensen, B., Bernien, H., Dreaú, A. E., Reiserer, A., Kalb, N., Blok, M. S., … Hanson, R. (2015). Loophole-free Bell inequality violation using electron spins separated by 1.3 kilometres. Nature, 526(7575), 682–686. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature15759
  • Pothos, E. M., & Busemeyer, J. R. (2013). Can quantum probability provide a new direction for cognitive modeling? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(3), 255–274. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X12001525
  • Wang, Z., Busemeyer, J. R., Atmanspacher, H., & Pothos, E. M. (2013). The potential of using quantum theory to build models of cognition. Topics in Cognitive Science, 5(4), 672–688. https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12043
  • Wiseman, H. (2015). Quantum physics: Death by experiment for local realism. Nature, 526, 649–650. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature15631
  • Yearsley, J. M., & Pothos, E. M. (2014). Challenging the classical notion of time in cognition: a quantum perspective. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1781), 20133056–20133056. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.3056

5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine: A novel treatment for addiction

Poster presentation: Cognition Institute conference – University of Plymouth – June 2018

Abstract
5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (acronymized as 5-MeO-DMT) is sui generis among the numerous naturally-occurring psychoactive indolealkylamine substances. Research indicates that 5-MeO-DMT may be endogenously synthesized in human pineal and retina. Moreover, it has been detected in blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid (Shen, Jiang, Winter, & Yu, 2010). Anthropological evidence suggests that various cultures utilised it for medicinal, psychological, and spiritual purposes for millennia (Furst, 1972). The molecule acts as a nonselective partial agonist at the 5-HT1A/2A receptor subtypes (associated with emotions, cognition, and memory, inter alia). Phenomenologically, 5-MeO-DMT can occasion “nondual experiences” (cf. Josipovic, 2014) analogous to those described in several ancient Asian knowledge traditions (e.g., Advaita Vedānta (Silberstein, 2017)) and it has been characterised as a prototypical entheogen (Metzner, 2015; Ruck, Bigwood, Staples, Ott, & Wasson, 1979). Accumulating evidence indicates that it is a ligand of the “Trace amine-associated receptors” (TAARs), a class of G protein-coupled receptors that were discovered in 2001. TAARs have been associated with pathological neuroadaptations caused by prolonged exposure to addictive drugs (e.g., alcohol, heroin, cocaine, etc.). Ergo, this molecular target might partially explain 5-MeO-DMTs promising neurorestorative and neuroprotective effects in addiction treatment. Furthermore, a recent cutting-edge neuroscientific in vivo and in silico study using human cerebral organoids found that 5-MeO-DMT matches the σ1 receptor which regulates cytoskeletal dendritic spine morphology and neurite outgrowth (Dakic et al., 2017). Therefore, σ1R agonism may mediate neuroplastic processes which accompany positive cognitive/behavioural changes. In addition, 5-MeO-DMT has been shown to downregulate the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) which is involved in the hedonic rewarding effects of addictive drugs (Knapp & Kornetsky, 2009). The effects of the extraordinary tryptamine on the dopaminergic system (e.g., nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area) are currently not well defined and more research is evidently needed to elucidate its exact neuropsychopharmacological mechanisms of action and potential associated epigenetic effects.

  • Dakic, V., Minardi Nascimento, J., Costa Sartore, R., Maciel, R. de M., de Araujo, D. B., Ribeiro, S., … Rehen, S. K. (2017). Short term changes in the proteome of human cerebral organoids induced by 5-MeO-DMT. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 12863. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12779-5
  • Furst, P. T. (1972). Symbolism and Psychopharmacology: the Toad as Earth Mother in Indian America. In K.J. Litrak & T.N. Castillo (Eds.), 1972, Religión en Mesoamerica, XII Mesa Redonda, Sociedad Méxicana de Antropología, México (pp. 37–46). Retrieved from http://www.samorini.it/doc1/alt_aut/ek/furst.pdf
  • Josipovic, Z. (2014). Neural correlates of nondual awareness in meditation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1307(1), 9–18. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.12261
  • Knapp, C. M., & Kornetsky, C. (2009). Neural Basis of Pleasure and Reward. Handbook of Neuroscience for the Behavioral Sciences, 781–806. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470478509.neubb002040
  • Metzner, R. (2015). Allies for awakening : guidelines for productive and safe experiences with entheogens. Berkeley, CA: Green Earth Foundation & Regent Press.
  • Ruck, C. A. P., Bigwood, J., Staples, D., Ott, J., & Wasson, G. (1979). Entheogens. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 11(1–2), 145–146. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.1979.10472098
  • Shen, H.-W., Jiang, X.-L., Winter, J. C., & Yu, A.-M. (2010). Psychedelic 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine: metabolism, pharmacokinetics, drug interactions, and pharmacological actions. Current Drug Metabolism, 11(8), 659–666. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2011.08.021.Secreted
  • Silberstein, M. (2017). Panentheism, neutral monism, and Advaita Vedanta. Zygon, 52(4), 1123–1145. https://doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12367

Academic/scientific Background

Previous research experience

I started studying psychology at the Free University of Amsterdam. My bachelor studies (supervised by Dr. Karen Mortier) were conducted within the theoretical framework of embodied cognition. In our experiments, we utilized different mood induction techniques in order to empirically investigate their influence on selective attention in a series of computerized visual search tasks. Our theorizing was significantly influenced by considerations regarding conceptual metaphor theory and the neuropsychological valence model of hemispheric processing of emotion perception.
Subsequent to my bachelor studies, I successfully completed a Master of Science in Psychological Research Methods (with distinction) at the University of Plymouth. During my master's project I collaborated with Prof. Simon Handley and the resulting dissertation focused primarily on the role prefrontal cortical executive functions play in logical syllogistic vs. belief-based reasoning (i.e., syntax vs. semantics in belief bias). Much of the motivation for our experimentation was derived from prior work on self-control/willpower, ego depletion, and contemporary dual process theories of cognition. Based on this background, I acquired substantial knowledge in cognitive psychology, particularly in the domain of logical reasoning and decision-making (e.g., behavioural economics in the Kahneman and Tversky research tradition).

Statistical research methods, Bayesian analysis, and Markov chain simulations

Given the well-documented paralogisms associated with classical Fisherian null hypothesis significance testing based on p-values (cf. Cohen, 1994) I advocate alternative inferential research methods. For the statistical analyses of the experimental data I collected during my PhD I utilised non-parametric Bayesian bootstrapping, Bayes Factor analysis for model comparison, and Bayesian a posteriori parameter estimation via Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations (in addition to orthodox frequentist null hypothesis significance testing).

Professor Gerd Gigerenzer (Director Emeritus of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin) formulated the following on the ubiquitous quasi-ritualistic usage of p-values:
Few researchers are aware that their own heroes rejected what they practice routinely. Awareness of the origins of the ritual and of its rejection could cause a virulent cognitive dissonance, in addition to dissonance with editors, reviewers, and dear colleagues. Suppression of conflicts and contradicting information is in the very nature of this social ritual.” (Gigerenzer, 2004, p. 592)

Based on my practical experience it is my opinion that Bayesian MCMC methods (an acronym for Markov chain Monte Carlo; cf. Hastings, 1970) are currently the most powerful analytical framework and the richness of information provided by this approach supersedes Bayes Factor analysis (even though Bayes Factor analysis is definitely superior to the logically incoherent p-value based analyses which unfortunately dominate psychology). The underlying large data simulations are quite resource intense in computational terms and they became only recently available to mainstream science (due to the exponential increase in computational performance; cf. Moore's law). Figure 1 visualises the output of a Bayesian MCMC analysis as reported in my PhD thesis (a between group comparison on the data of a quantum psychophysics experiment on noncommutativity in visual perception using the 95%HDI/ROPE decision algorithm for hypothesis testing; cf. Kruschke & Liddell, 2018).

Figure 1. Visual synopsis of the results of a Bayesian parameter estimation via MCMC simulations for the difference between means for experimental condition V00 versus V01 with associated 95% HDIs and a ROPEs ranging from [-0.1,0.1], respectively.
Left panel: Posterior distribution of the means per experimental condition (i.e., V00 and V01; n=62) with associated 95% HDI (Bayesian posterior high density credible interval); the associated standard deviations (σ1 and σ2) with their associated 95% HDIs, and the Gaussianity parameter ν with its associated 95% HDI.
Upper right panel: Posterior predictive plots for the difference between means per experimental condition (n=62). Curves were produced by selecting random steps in the Markov chain and plotting the t-distribution (with the corresponding values of μ, σ and ν for that step). In total n=30 representative t-distributions are superimposed on the histogram of the actual empirical dataset.
Lower right panel: The difference between means with its associated ROPE ranging from [-0.1,0.1] and 95% HDI; the standard deviation of the a posteriori estimated difference and the corresponding effect size δ with its associated ROPE [-0.1,0.1] and 95% HDI.

  • Cohen, J. (1994). The Earth Is Round (p < .05). American Psychologist, 49(12), 997–1003. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.49.12.997
  • Gigerenzer, G. (2004). Mindless statistics. Journal of Socio-Economics, 33(5), 587–606. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2004.09.033
  • Hastings, W. K. (1970). Monte Carlo sampling methods using Markov chains and their applications. Biometrika, 57(1), 97–109.
  • Kruschke, J. K., & Liddell, T. M. (2018). The Bayesian New Statistics: Hypothesis testing, estimation, meta-analysis, and power analysis from a Bayesian perspective. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(1), 178–206.

Technical skills, programming, and webdesign

I am a proponent of the open-source philosophy. For data analyses I preferably utilise the R environment for statistical computing and graphics. In the past I designed various experiments using the freely available Python-based application PsychoPy.
Moreover, I am a web-designer and a user-interface developer and proficient with various modern information technologies and scripting languages (e.g., HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, PHP, etc.). Shortly after finishing my masters in psychological research methods I started a web design company in Germany.

Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural interests

I am intrinsically very interested in the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) system and its role in perception and cognition (for instance, creativity, open-mindedness, cognitive flexibility, neuroplasticity and neurogenesis). Furthermore, philosophy of science and mind capture my deepest curiosity.
Personally, I love to exchange ideas with scholars who adhere to different scientific and cultural paradigms (i.e., Weltanschauungen) because interdisciplinary and cross-cultural discourse offers great intellectual stimulation and provides impetus for the development of novel unconventional ideas, hypotheses, and theories.

Social/public engagement and humanistic concerns

I am personally very engaged in the socio-political aspects of psychology and neuroscience (i.e., social psychology and neuropolitics) and I regard social/public engagement as an important aspect of academic/intellectual life. I am convinced that the following three domains are currently of utmost importance and that “irrational decisions” and other deeply rooted (unconscious) aspects of human psychology lie at the very heart of these crucial problems which concern all of us.

  1. The destruction of the ‘Earth System’ and the chemical pollution of our environment and food (e.g., the exponential loss of biodiversity, the extremely worrisome cumulative pollution of the ecosystem)
    During my PhD I submitted numerous formal complaints to the British government in order to raise awareness at the regulatory level. For instance, one complaint concerned the spraying of the neurotoxic chemical glyphosate in public areas in Plymouth (in close proximity to playgrounds while children were playing). The case was published as a news article by “The Herald Plymouth”.
    I created the following website which summarises the pertinent literature and provides additional information on the neurotoxic effects of glyphosate, inter alia: www.glyphosate-neurotoxicity.ga
  2. The constant threat of nuclear annihilation (cf. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists) and the ubiquitous and mainly unregulated immoral activities by the military-industrial complex and its significant impact on society and hence human psychology on multiple levels.
    Since 2017, I submitted another elongated series of complaints to the government which address the systematic propaganda (euphemistically renamed into PR) by the military in the city centre of Plymouth. The military intentionally exposes children to large weapons in public spaces and encourages these innocent and naïve creatures to “play” with tools which are designed for a single purpose (i.e., to harm other human beings). I addressed the issue in the context of the pertinent scientific literature on priming and desensitisation towards aggression and violence, specifically in the context of the well-documented “weapon expose effect”. Developmental neuroplasticity and psychological behavioural conditioning (e.g., Hebbian synaptic long-term potentiation; dopaminergic processes in the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area associated with reward and learning) are additional important scientific concepts in this context which concerns the psychological and neuronal development of the next generation. I therefore emphasis “cross-generational responsibility” and my message is simply: If we want to create a psychologically healthy and peaceful future we need to ‘stop to teach our children how to kill’.
    I created the following website to address the literature on conceptual priming and weapon exposure: www.weapons-priming-effect.ml
  3. Neoliberalism and social justice (i.e., the dramatically widening gap between the rich and the poor). The predominant neoliberal agenda blames the poor for their disadvantaged social status (cf. Mausfeld, 2017). In social psychology/victimology this logically fallacious (but often-times emotionally effective) strategy is known as ‘victim-blaming’. The ongoing feudal exploitation of the social systems by the financial power elite (a well-defined term in sociology) is a huge issue which concerns all of us (that is, those who do not belong to this superrich segment which constitutes much less than 1% of the total population but dictates many social decision-making processes; cf. Mausfeld, 2017). Mass-media and psychological indoctrination play a crucial role in this scenario in order to consolidate this illegitimate power asymmetry. In simple word, the masses (often referred to as ‘the herd’ by PR scholars; cf. Lippmann) are systematically manipulated into ignorant submission so that they do not perceive the unethical and immoral injustice and therefore passively tolerate the systematic exploitation by those in power (cf. Noam Chomsky, 1988). The massed are led to believe that the current modus operandi is a result of natural systemic economic forces (viz., emergent properties of the system we inhabit). Cognitive psychology (specifically behavioural economics), primary education, and academic institutions play a pivotal role in this manipulative context. My empirical/experimental research on various cognitive biases, belief formation, dual-process theory, syllogistic reasoning, and prefrontal cortical executive functions helped me significantly to develop a deeper understanding of this subject.
    I created the following website to provide extensive background information from a plurality of interdisciplinary resources to elucidate this crucial topic which concerns the cognitive freedom of all of us: www.cognitive-liberty.online

"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas". ~Marie Curie

Presentation on "Quantum cognition and non-classical probability in visual perception"


Workshop on experimental research methods
(together with Prof. Chris Harris)


Algorithmic digital art: The Möbius band as a visual metaphor for dual-aspect monism

I argue that the Möbius band provides an easily accessible visual metaphor for dual-aspect Monism à la Pauli-Jung. The Pauli-Jung conjecture is particularly relevant in the context of modern neuroscience as most contemporary neuroscientists stipulate prima facie that the brain produces consciousness. However, this perspective is a working hypothesis which is not conclusively supported by empirical evidence. The monistic dual-aspect perspective provides a parsimonious & elegant solution for the mind-body problem and the hard problem of consciousness (viz., the production problem). The ancient symbolism of the Möbius band is particularly interesting from an embodied and grounded cognition perspective. Specifically, Lakoff’s “conceptual metaphor theory” provides a theoretical framework which highlights the importance of metaphorical thinking, i.e., metaphors lie at the very core of human cognition and structure all of human thought at the most fundamental neuronal/cognitive level (e.g., via neuronal Hebbian mechanisms of long-term potentiation which are established in the Piagetian sensorimotor-phase of human development). Besides its theoretical scientific relevance pertaining to fundamental questions concerning epistemology and ontology, the non-dual (Sanskrit: अद्वैत, “Advaita”) perspective has important and far-reaching moral and ethical ramifications.

  • Atmanspacher, H. (2012). Dual-aspect monism à la Pauli and Jung. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 19(9), 96-120.
  • Barsalou, L. W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22(4), 577-609.
  • Lakoff, G. (1987). Image Metaphors. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 2(3), 219–222.
  • Smith, C. U. M. (2006). The ‘hard problem’ and the quantum physicists. Part 1: The first generation. Brain and Cognition, 61(2), 181–188.
  • Smith, C. U. M. (2009). The ‘hard problem’ and the quantum physicists. Part 2: Modern times. Brain and Cognition, 71(2), 54–63.

Off the Lip conference

TRANSCENDING ACADEMIC AND EPISTEMIC BOUNDARIES: Psychoactive tryptamines and the frontiers of human exploration

presented on 9th of September 2015 @ Off the Lip conference (Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation)

Abstract

Contemporary materialistic reductionist neuroscience emanates from the working hypothesis that the underpinnings of human perception and cognition are based on electrochemical signal transduction. That is, electrical action potentials and chemical neurotransmission are postulated to undergird all mental processes. Interestingly, especially from a neurochemistry/biology point of view, several secondary (possibly semiotic) plant compounds have close structural relationships with various human neurotransmitters and consequently can reliably change a variety of cognitive processes (both quantitatively and qualitatively). N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (often acronymised as DMT) is a paradigmatic exemplar. Its molecular structural geometry (see Appendix) is very closely related to 5-hydroxytryptamin (Serotonin). DMT is a phylogenetically ancient molecule which is ubiquitous in the plant and animal kingdom (Smith, 1977). In its pure synthesized form, it is a white, pungent-smelling, crystalline solid. Accumulating converging evidence suggests that DMT is an endogenous neurotransmitter in the human brain (e.g., Cozzi, et al., 2009; Fontanilla, et al., 2009).

A defining criterion of DMTs psychological activity is that it affects visual perception in the most spectacular ways possibly imaginable. Its profound experiential/phenomenological effects are described as consciousness expanding, transformative, and essentially ineffable. DMT has been used in shamanistic rituals for millennia by several cultural traditions. For example, it constitutes the active chemical principle in Ayahuasca, a plant based, drinkable concoction, which is utilized by indigenous tribes in the Amazonian rainforest for divinatory and healing purposes (Metzner, 2014). Typically, the main ingredients of the Ayahuasca brew are two plants, Psychotria Viridis (which contains the DMT) and Banisteriopsis Caapi (which contains the harmala alkaloid harmine, a slective and reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor that prevents the breakdown of DMT in the gastro-intestinal tract). Western science has just recently learned about DMT and its psychoactive effects from ethnobotanists who were able to conserve this ancient knowledge literally in the last minute because old shamanic traditions are being extinguished at a fast pace by the modern industrial world.

“Templo Sacrosanto” by Pablo Amaringo“Templo Sacrosanto” by Pablo Amaringo (see also Luna & Amaringo, 1999).

References

  • Cozzi, N.V., Gopalakrishnan, A., Anderson, L.L., Feih, J.T., Shulgin, A.T., Daley, P.F., Ruoho A.E. (2009). Dimethyltryptamine and other hallucinogenic tryptamines exhibit substrate behavior at the serotonin uptake transporter and the vesicle monoamine transporter. Journal of Neural Transmission, 116(12), 1591-1599.
  • Fontanilla, D., Johannessen, M., Hajipour, A.R., Cozzi, N.V., Jackson, M.B., Ruoho, A.E. (2009). The Hallucinogen N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Is an Endogenous Sigma-1 Receptor Regulator. Science, 323(5916), 934-937.
  • Luna, L. & Amaringo, P. (1999). Ayahuasca visions: The religious iconography of a Peruvian shaman. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books.
  • Metzner, R. (2014). The Ayahuasca experience: A sourcebook on the sacred vine of spirits. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.
  • Smith, T. (1977). Tryptamine and Related Compounds in Plants, Phytochemistry, 16, 171-175.

Appendix

Chemical relations between Serotonin, Psilocin, and DMT

Compounds such as psilocin (which is a precursor of psilocybin) and DMT have chemical structures that resemble the neurotransmitter serotonin. This structural similarity allows them to stimulate serotonin-sensitive neurons. Note that the intermolecular serotonin motif is embedded in both analogous structures.


Podcast with Prof. Roger Malina

@ CreativeDisturbance.org

URL: http://creativedisturbance.org/podcast/from-quantum-cognition-and-decision-making-to-the-role-of-dmt-in-cognition-eng/

Christopher Germann and Prof. Roger Malina discuss Chris’ current work in the Cognovo PhD program, on quantum cognition which applies the mathematical formalisms of quantum theory to understanding cognitive processes. Chris is currently working on non-commutativity in decision theory, with laboratory experiments in visual decision making. He is also studying the role of the endogenous neurotransmitter DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) in perception and cognition.


Interview at RadioCognovia

Audio Player

URL: https://www.mixcloud.com/radiocognovia/2015-01-30-radio-cognovia-christopher-b-germann-interview/: Radio Cognovia interview with Christopher B. Germann


Presentation at the “Science and Nonduality” conference in California

 

Science and Nonduality CogNovo@SAND
Chris presented the empirical results of his psychophysics experiments at the ”Science and Nonduality“ conference which took place in California's Silicon Valley.
Science and Nonduality (acronymised as SAND) provides a forum where preeminent physicist, neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers, artists and a large, international community gather to explore and advance the new emerging paradigm that is both grounded in cutting-edge science and consistent with the ancient philosophical wisdom of nondual schools of thought (e.g., Advaita Vedānta, Mahāyāna Buddhism) — the deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all life.

"Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image."

~ Alan Watts

"It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Indras net
Indra's net is a visual metaphor that illustrates the ontological concepts of dependent origination and interpenetration (see Cook, 1977).

SAND explores the edge where knowledge meets the unknown. SAND is inspired to develop a vibrant community of individuals who share this vision, believing the time is right for the fragmentation of knowledge that has occurred over the last centuries to give way to a new integrative paradigm in which science and spirituality reenter into meaningful dialogue – bridging an empirically responsible and non-dogmatic spirituality with a humanistic science willing to consider questions of context, perception, meaning and purpose.

„Was ich in der Natur sehe, ist eine großartige Struktur, die wir nur sehr unvollkommen zu erfassen vermögen und die einen denkenden Menschen mit einem Gefühl der Demut erfüllen muss. Dies ist ein echt religiöses Gefühl das mit Mystizismus nichts zu schaffen hat.“

Translation: “What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism”.

~ Albert Einstein (1979, p.132)

References

  • Cook, F.H., 1977, Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra, University Park: Pennsylvania State University.
  • Einstein, A., Dukas, H. & Hoffmann, B. (1979). Albert Einstein, the Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
  • King, M.L., Jr. (1967). A Christmas Sermon for Peace, Ebenezer Baptist Church.
  • Watts, A. (1969). Following the Middle Way. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from www.alanwattspodcast.com on 2008-08-31

Secondment @ Manipal University Jaipur in India

Manipal University Jaipur
During my PhD I absolved a secondment at Manipal University Jaipur in India where I conducted empirical research on psychophysical noncommutativity effects in cross-modal perceptual processes (in collaboration with Professor Geetika Tankha). In addition, the experimental investigation focused on the concept of ego-extension from a cross-culural perspective.

Professor Geetika Tankha

Professor Geetika Tankha is Head of the Psychology department at Manipal University Jaipur, India. She holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Rajasthan. Her major areas of research interest are individual differences, human cognition, environmental and cross-cultural psychology.

More infos:
http://jaipur.manipal.edu/foa/about-foa/leadership/geetika-tankha.html


Leonardo Book Reviews

References

  • Stone, A. D. (2016). Einstein and the Quantum. The Quest of the Valiant Swabian Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. doi:10.1515/9781400874040
  • Freese, K. (2014). The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter Three Parts Dark Matter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. WEB
  • Gazzaniga, M. S., & Mangun, G. R. (2014). The Cognitive neurosciences. Cambridge: The MIT Press. ISBN:9780262027779, WEB

Cognition Institute with Plymouth University

Contact

Christopher B. Germann
Marie Curie Fellow
Cognition Institute
Plymouth University
Address: CogNovo → Link Building (3rd Floor) | Plymouth University | Drake Circus | Plymouth | PL4 8AA | United Kingdom
Email: christopher.germann@plymouth.ac.uk

CogNovo