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Walking with zombies: Sussex researchers explore consciousness at Science Museum event

ZombieLab will feature interactive demonstrations created by the Sackler Centre at the University of Sussex

University of Sussex researchers will join forces with the public later this month (January 2013) to fend off a zombie attack – all in the name of science.

Dr Daniel Bor and colleagues from the University’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science will be taking part in ZombieLab – a three-day event involving talks and fun activities inspired by the horror concept of “the walking dead”. 

The aim is to explore what it means to be a conscious being, and what we understand about consciousness.

The free event for visitors aged 15+ takes place at the Science Museum in London.  Visitors will have to identify and defeat zombie invaders, learning about consciousness along the way and encountering a zombie or two.

There will be more than 15 interactive experiences to explore, including the Zombie Academy, collective behaviour experiments, hands-on demonstrations and the live “trial” of a zombie.

Sackler Centre members taking part include Professor Anil Seth (Sackler Centre Co-Director) who will give a ‘snapshot’ talk about how we experience our own bodies and what happens when things go wrong.  Dr Sarah Garfinkel will describe her cutting-edge research on the unexpected importance of heartbeats in conscious perception, and D  Keisuke Suzuki will demonstrate his unique virtual reality experiment which can give members of the public ‘out of body experiences’. 

Other researchers and students from the Centre will be on-hand throughout the event to help explain what consciousness science is all about.

University of Sussex and Sackler Centre neuroscientist Dr Bor, who is author of the consciousness science book The Ravenous Brain, and who helped to develop the event, says: “The Science Museum has come up with a gem of an idea to use those popular iconic beings, zombies, to explore the science of consciousness, conscious experience and how it can help our understanding of how we perceive the world.

“This intimate yet profound research field is highly relevant to a range of medical issues and ethical questions, and I'm excited to be helping explain some of the science behind consciousness at ZombieLab.”


Notes to Editors

ZombieLab

ZombieLab takes place on Wednesday 30 January at one of the Science Museum’s Lates – adult-only open nights – (6.45pm-10pm) and continues over the weekend of 2 and 3 February (12 midday-5pm). Entry is free but restricted to over 15s only. Travel directions on the Museum’s web site.

Follow the event on twitter via #ZombieLab and tweets from @sciencemuseum

ZombieLab is co-produced by the Science Museum and Trigger Stuff Ltd. The interactive experiences at ZombieLab include:

  • The Trial: Visitors form a Community Jury to decide the outcome in two critical Zombie test cases
  • Quarantine: Prove you’re not a zombie by complete the tasks to show you’re fully conscious
  • Horde: Can you survive the outbreak by hiding in the horde? Collective behaviour experts will put you through your paces in a zombie predator-prey game.
  • Escape: It’s easy to outwit one zombie, but what happens when 40 people try to do it at the same time? Test your theory of mind in this mass-participation game.
  • Pro-Zombie Action Group: Pro-Zombie activists will be recruiting visitors to stand up for zombie rights with banners, speeches and impromptu demonstrations.

See ZombieLab for full details.

To request interviews, or for further information and images please contact Will Stanley in the Science Museum Press Office on 020 7942 4429 or at will.stanley@sciencemuseum.org.uk.

The Sackler Centre at the University of Sussex

The Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science is a dedicated research facility conducting fundamentally new research into consciousness science.

Founded in 2010 with a generous donation from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, the Sackler represents a new and multidisciplinary approach to clinical intervention and diagnosis, based on the science of the complex brain networks that give rise to consciousness. 

The Sackler Centre brings together consciousness researchers from Psychology, Psychiatry, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science to address common questions using converging methodologies.

Sussex is uniquely placed for such a centre of international standing, building on its distinguished reputation for multidisciplinary work in cognitive science, neuroscience and experimental psychology.

The Sackler Centre is also able to draw on the resources at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, with its newly opened Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre, adding cutting-edge clinical and neuroimaging expertise.

Other relevant centres include the established Sussex Centre for Neuroscience and the internationally leading Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics.

With this available expertise on one site, the Sackler Centre has the ability to deliver novel and powerful insights into high level brain functions that include human consciousness.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email: press@sussex.ac.uk

View press releases online at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2013

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