United Nations Symposium on Mind, Brain and Consciousness (english) [09/2008]

Neuroscientist and physicians are trying to uncover the complex relationship between mind, brain, and consciousness in order to come up with a more comprehensive perspective on the "self" and the workings of the human mind. The result of their research has helped to shed a more holistic light on the understanding of the elusive mind-body problem.

On September 11th, 2008 a group of renowned scientist took part in a symposium at the United Nations in New York. Listening in on their discussion allows even the layman to understand how new paradigms fueled by the latest scientific research are beginning to fundamentally alter how we perceive and relate to the physical world.

This is a collection of short videos recorded during the symposium at the United Nations. The videos are between 1 and 15 minutes each and are really worth watching. Two videos that captured the entire discussion are available at the very bottom of this article.

Prof. Dr. Bruce Greyson



Dr. Bruce Greyson is Professor of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia as well as the Director of the universities Division of Perceptual Studies. He has been researching near-death experiences for over 25 years and has published multiple articles on this topic in scientific journals. Due to his long experience he is sometimes refered to at the father of research in near-death experiences.


Consciousness without brain activity : In this 15-minute video Dr. Bruce Greyson talks about his insights from over 25 years of research on near-death experiences, which show that our notion of the mind and the brain being the same thing is a misperception. Viewing this video is highly recommended. If you only watch one video on this entire page, watch this one.


What is reality ? In this 2-minute video Dr. Bruce Greyson talks about the concept of an objective reality and how the only way to truly determine the reality of something is through the effect that it has on us.


Dr. Mario Beauregard

00280aDr. Mario Beauregard is a neuroscientist from the University of Montreal (Departments of Psychology and Radiology, Neuroscience Research Center). He is the author of more than 100 publications in neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry and was selected by the World Media Net to be among the "One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century." Dr. Beauregard’s groundbreaking work on the neurobiology of emotion and mystical experience at the University of Montreal has received international media coverage.



Can Consciousness Influence Brain Events? Brain imaging data shows that our intention, beliefs and expections have an influence on our brain. Another recommended video:


The Barriers to the Scientific Study of Consciousness and Spirituality: Dr. Beauregard shares his experiences how his research about consciousness is blocked by scientists who fear any research that tackles the mind-body problem and involves spiritual aspects. 


A lecture by Dr. Beauregard on insights from his neuroscientific research is available in the Resource section.


Dr. Andrew Newberg

00197uDr. Andrew Newberg is Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Nuclear Medicine and is considered a pioneer in the neuroscientific study of religious and spiritual experiences, a field frequently referred to as – neurotheology.

Objective Reality and Beliefs: How Our Brain Misleads Us : In this video Dr. Newberg points out that our brain tends to create an inaccurate perception of the world and that we can never be really objective even if we tend to think we are.  


Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz

00259eDr. Jeffrey Schwartz is an associate research professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is one of the world’s leading experts in neuroplasticity and the author of more than 100 scientific books and articles on neuroscience and psychiatry. After 20 years of research into brain imaging and functional neuroanatomy Dr. Schwartz is particularly knowledgable in the pathological mechanisms and psychological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.



Breakdown of the Materialist Paradigm : In this video Dr. Schwartz talks about obsessive compulsive disorder through the example of Leonardo DiCapro and the resistance from the scientific establishment to go beyond the materialistic paradigm.


Dr. Esther Sternberg

00240lDr. Esther M. Sternberg received her M.D. and Rheumatology training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, before joining the National Institutes of Health in 1986. Currently she is Chief of the Section on Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Sternberg is also Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program, NIMH/NIH and Co-Chair of the NIH Intramural Program on Research in Women's Health. She is internationally recognized for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the brain's stress response on health: the science of the mind-body interaction.

The Importance of Gathering Data in Studying Mind-Body Interaction : Dr. Sternberg speaks about the importance of gathering and publishing scientific data and how research in immunology can contribute to the understanding of the mind-body connection


The Mind's Influence on the Immune System : Dr. Sternberg discusses how the majority of mainstream scientists grew to accept the fact that the mind can influence the immune system


Dr. Elie During

00239kDr. Elie During is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris 10, Nanterre. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and at Princeton University. Dr. During received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris 10 in 2007 for his research on the philosophical reception of the theory of relativity and has since been further exploring the notion of spacetime at the juncture of metaphysics, science, and aesthetics, where the durations of mind and matter seem to intersect.



Introduction on How Does Consciousness Shape the Brain : This is the introduction to the panel discussion on the connections between mind and body pointing out the relation between seemingly incompatible approaches - materialistic and spiritual. Being a French philosopher Dr. During adds an interesting angle to the board of scientists and medical experts.


Dr. Henry Stapp

00254zDr. Henry Stapp is a theoretical physicist at the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, specializing in the mathematical and logical foundations of quantum mechanics. His doctoral thesis under Nobel Laureates Segré and Chamberlain created the relativistic theory for the analysis of the proton-proton polarization and spin-correlation experiments. On the basis of that work and criticisms of the Pauli-Heisenberg nonlinear field theory, he was invited by Pauli to work with him in Zurich on foundational issues. Dr. Stapp is the author of over 300 scientific articles on foundational issues, and has also written about the revisions entailed by twentieth century developments in physics of the materialist worldview suggested by the physics of earlier centuries.

Quantum Mechanics and Human Consciousness : Dr. Stapp talks about how quantum mechanics can explain how intent can cause changes in the structure of the brain that can ultimately affect behavior


Videos of the entire sessions

Part 1 : Mind-Body Connections: How Does Consciousness Shape the Brain?

Dr. Mario Beauregard
Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz
Dr. Henry P. Stapp
Dr. Esther M. Sternberg

Moderated by Dr. Elie During


Part 2 : Beyond the Brain: The Experiential Implications of Neurotheology

Dr. Mario Beauregard
Dr. Bruce Greyson
Dr. Andrew B. Newberg
Dr. Christina M. Puchalski

Moderated by Dr. Elie During


These videos were provided by the Nour Foundation on their Youtube channel. For more information about the symposium or the participants visit the following link :