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Episode 23
Featuring Heather Berlin
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Heather Berlin, a cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine about the neural basis of consciousness. Is there nothing more to the experience of consciousness than the observable firing of billions of neurons jumbled together in an atomic stew of empty space?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Heather Berlin about the neural basis of consciousness. The two consider a theory of mind based on a materialist perspective on reality. Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

 

How can a materialist perspective provide answers about the nature of our subjective experience? How can a theory of consciousness explain the very thing that created it? If consciousness is rooted in the material world, then what explains the metaphysical properties of subjective thoughts and our feelings? If we assume a deterministic universe, does this mean that we are not in charge of our volitions or desires?

 

Heather Berlin shares her clinical insights into the neural basis of depression, anxiety, and psychosis as we explore the substantive source of human creativity, inspiration, and genius. Is there really nothing more to the experience of consciousness – to life itself – than the observable firing of billions of neurons jumbled together in an atomic stew consisting almost entirely of empty space?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

Dr. Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also a visiting Scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and practices clinical neuropsychology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College in the Department of Neurological Surgery. She explores the neural basis of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric and neurological disorders with aim of developing novel treatments. She is also interested in the brain basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity.

 

Passionate about science communication and promoting women in STEM, Berlin is a committee member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, and host of the PBS series Science Goes to the Movies, and the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown. She co-wrote and stars in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway and Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, Off the Top, about the neuroscience of improvisation. Berlin has made numerous media appearances including on the BBC, History Channel, Netflix, StarTalk, and TEDx. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and Master of Public Health from Harvard University.

 

Dr. Berlin was a Visiting Professor at Vassar College, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology/University of Zurich, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the American Neuropsychiatric Association, the International Neuropsychological Society Phillip M. Rennick Award, the Young Investigator Award from the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, and the Clifford Yorke Prize from the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society.

 

@Heather_Berlin

heatherberlin.com

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