Consciousness conference opens with free ‘expo’ on mysteries of the mind

Rotating snakes, by Akiyoshi Kitaoka

An opportunity to explore fascinating aspects of human consciousness is on offer at a free one-day ‘expo’ curated by University of Sussex scientists at Brighton’s Corn Exchange on 30 June.

State of Mind, the brainchild of the Sackler Centre for the Consciousness Science, will showcase mind-bending visual illusions, virtual reality environments and neuroscience-inspired interactive art exhibits, together with talks and demonstrations by scientists, technologists and artists currently investigating the biology of consciousness.

The event opens the 16th meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC16), a global conference attracting more than 400 top academics and researchers in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and consciousness research.

Dr Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre and chair of the conference, says: “We hope to make the week of the conference not just an academic event, but a citywide celebration of consciousness science.  The expo will demonstrate in a fun and accessible way how far we have come in understanding some aspects of consciousness – and also how much we have still to explore.”

 The exhibitors includes a number of Sussex scientists:

  • Synaesthesia expert Dr Jamie Ward will demonstrate how to substitute your sense of vision with an auditory description of the world.
  • Dr Sam Hutton will show, by the use of an eye tracking device, how your vision may not be as good as you think; or maybe even better.
  • Dr Keisuke Suzuki will demonstrate how novel combinations of ‘augmented reality’ and 3D modelling can alter how we experience our own bodies – allowing us even to meet ourselves!
  • Dr Nicolas Rothen will be inviting members of the public to participate in a fascinating psychological experiment to understand how the brain segregates and integrates different sensations and thoughts.

External exhibitors will also be on hand to help visitors recreate visualisations of neural activity, induce deep relaxation using  complex patterns of flashing lights, and direct a movie using EEG brainwave technology. There will also be two sessions of short talks showcasing the latest in consciousness science and in neuroscience-based art.

Interactive activities for younger visitors include learning how to build some impossible objects, creating a version of their own brain and discovering what it might be like to be a neuron.

Notes for editors

For more information, visit, and

If you would like to arrange filming, photographs or interviews in advance or on the day of State of Mind, please contact the University of Sussex Press Office, Jacqui Bealing and Maggie Clune,, 01273 678888.    For other enquires please contact the expo curator, Dr. David Schwarztman (

The ASSC16 will be hosted by the  Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science  in association with the University of Sussex, July 2-6, 2012, also at the Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange.  Awarded to Sussex in a competitive bidding process in 2010, the ASSC is the premier international meeting in its field, and is hosted in Europe only once every three years. See

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2012