Why do certain drugs have such a profound effect on how we make sense of the world? In this webinar, we will look at the brain as an organ of sentience – assimilating sensory information to update its beliefs about states of affairs beyond our sensory veils. In particular, we will consider perception in terms of inference or hypothesis testing. In other words, we will look at the brain as a little scientist, who uses sensory evidence to confirm or disconfirm her hypotheses about how the sensorium is caused.
This way of formalising brain function allows us to talk about beliefs and belief-updating in a way that can be connected to message passing among different brain systems. This is important because drugs can have a profound influence on this message passing. Our focus will be on how we attend to different streams of sensory information – or different levels of abstraction. This attention is thought to be mediated by the selection or enabling of connections in the brain that allow newsworthy information to be passed from the sensory brain to the deep hierarchical levels of processing and representation. This means that certain drugs can exert a profound effect on the ensuing perceptual synthesis.
Furthermore, we can start to understand psychopathology in terms of false inference. For example, believing something is there when it is not (i.e., a hallucination or delusion) or believing something is not there when it is (i.e., attentional neglect or agnosia). Further examples include the fears of abandonment in borderline states, the self-deprecation of depression and the constant fears of post-traumatic conditions. This webinar provides an introduction the hierarchical, Bayesian and anarchic brain. It offers a formal and intuitive account of the effect of psychedelic and psychometric drugs – and how they affect the message passing in the brain underwrites our beliefs about the lived world – and the way we engage with that world.
Date: Wednesday 9 June 2021
Time: 7:25pm for 7:30pm start – 8:45pm (incl Q&A) (AEST)
The presentation WILL BEGIN AT 7:30pm.
Location: Online. A link will be emailed to you with the viewing details.
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More about medicinal psychedelic treatments:
Psychedelic-assisted treatments offer enormous potential in providing a meaningful alternative to current treatments for mental illness. PTSD is a debilitating condition that affects tens of millions of people worldwide, with many more trauma victims diagnosed with comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. In recent clinical trials, MDMA has been shown to produce reliable clinical improvements, restoring patient safety and self-agency even for individuals who have suffered with PTSD for many years, and for whom many treatments have failed.
The wave of clinical psychedelic research and regulatory support is rapidly building, with experts forecasting the availability of psychedelic-assisted treatments in the US and EU within the next 2 to 5 years, subject to positive clinical outcomes in large trials that are currently underway.
Dr Eli Kotler
MBBS MPM FRANZCP Cert. Old Age Psych. AFRACMA
Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Malvern Private Hospital
Eli is a consultant psychiatrist, holds an academic position at Monash University through the Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, and is the medical director of Malvern Private Hospital, the first addiction hospital in Australia. He is a member of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD). Clinically, Eli is interested in the deep connections between trauma and addiction and works within a neuro-psychoanalytic framework. Eli has overseen the development of a clinical program for addictions focused on trauma, particularly developmental trauma. This has led to an interest in medication-assisted trauma therapy. Eli worked for many years researching neurodegenerative diseases and was the principle investigator on numerous trials for novel therapeutics. He is founding member of the Melbourne Neuropsychoanalytic Group and welcomes new members. Through involvement with Monash University, Eli oversees the addiction rotation for medical students.
Prof Dr Karl J. Friston (UK)
MBBS, MA, MRCPsych, MAE, FMedSci, FRBS, FRS
Karl Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging. He invented statistical parametric mapping (SPM), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM). These contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning, formulated as the dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia. Mathematical contributions include variational Laplacian procedures and generalized filtering for hierarchical Bayesian model inversion.
Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a free-energy principle for action and perception (active inference). Friston received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping (1996) and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999). In 2000 he was President of the international Organization of Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006. In 2008 he received a Medal, College de France and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York in 2011.
He became of Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2012, received the Weldon Memorial prize and Medal in 2013 for contributions to mathematical biology and was elected as a member of EMBO (excellence in the life sciences) in 2014 and the Academia Europaea in (2015). He was the 2016 recipient of the Charles Branch Award for unparalleled breakthroughs in Brain Research and the Glass Brain Award, a lifetime achievement award in the field of human brain mapping. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Zurich and Radboud University.