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How to Understand the Causal Interactions between Consciousness and the Brain

29 April 2021 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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In everyday life we take it for granted that we have conscious control of some of our actions and that the part of us that exercises conscious control is the conscious mind.

Psychosomatic medicine also assumes that the conscious mind can affect body states, and this is supported by evidence that the use of imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback and other ‘mental interventions’ can be therapeutic in a variety if conditions.

However, there is no accepted theory of mind/body interaction and this has had a detrimental effect on the acceptance of mental causation in science, philosophy and in many areas of clinical practice.

Biomedical accounts typically translate the effects of mind into the effects of brain functioning, for example, explaining mind/body interactions in terms of the interconnections and reciprocal control of cortical, neuroendocrine, autonomic and immune systems.

While such accounts are instructive, they are implicitly reductionist, and beg the question of how conscious experience could have bodily effects.

On the other hand, non-reductionist accounts have to cope with three problems:

  1. The physical world appears causally closed, which would seem to leave no room for conscious control.
  2. One is not conscious of one’s own body processing, so how could there be conscious control of such processing?
  3. Conscious experiences appear to come too late to causally effect the processes to which they most obviously relate.

This talk suggests a dual-aspect, monist solution to these problems in which conscious experiences and associated brain states are thought of as complementary first- and third-person ways of knowing the operations of a fundamentally psychophysical mind.

Please note, this webinar will not be recorded. To avoid disappointment please only book a place if you are able to attend the live webinar.

Learning outcomes

Participants in this webinar will gain an understanding of -

a) the problems of understanding the causal interactions of consciousness and brain,

b) the problems of standard dualist and materialist-reductionist solutions to these problems,

c) a deeper, dual-aspect monist understanding of mind and self that resolves these problems. The use of psychological vs physical interactions in therapeutic situations will also be clarified.


Max Velmans, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, has been involved in consciousness studies for over 40 years. His pioneering integrative work on the philosophy, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology of consciousness has led to over 130 publications (see Research Gate and Academia.edu) and over 150 national and international invited lectures on this topic. His widely praised book Understanding Consciousness (2000) was short-listed for the British Psychological Society book award in 2001 and 2002, and is now in its second (2009) edition. Other books include How Could Consciousness Experiences Affect Brains? (2003), the co-edited Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2007, 2017), Towards a Deeper Understanding of Consciousness (2017), and the four-volume collection Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) (2018). He was a co-founder and, from 2004-2006 , Chair of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section, and was an Indian Council of Philosophical Research National Visiting Professor for 2010-2011.

Registration is now open.

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CEP Members


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BPS student Member  £8.00
Student Non-Member 


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BPS Member  £15.00
Non-members £18.00

All prices include VAT

Joining instructions will be sent the day prior to the event, these will be sent to your BPS registered email address.

Please note, this webinar will not be recorded. To avoid disappointment please only book a place if you are able to attend the live webinar.

Have a query?

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