New Professor Talk: Professor Olivia Carter (University of Melbourne)
This MSPS Online Colloquium featured Professor Olivia Carter of the University of Melbourne presenting a talk on 'Psychedelics and the Pharmacology of Consciousness'
Psychedelics and the Pharmacology of Consciousness
The study of altered states of consciousness has long had the potential to provide important insight into the nature of consciousness. In recent years there has been a resurgence of research and public interest in atypical or altered states of consciousness. These have focused both on conditions in which consciousness is considered to be impaired due to brain trauma or enhanced in some way through mediation practices or ingestion of psychedelics. The talk will begin with a brief overview of recent scientific approaches to understanding these different types of altered consciousness. The remainder of the talk will focus on lab-based experiments looking at the effects of serotoninergic hallucinogens (i.e. psilocybin and LSD) on perceptual and cognitive function. Together this body of research provides important new insights for the scientific study of consciousness and an initial understanding of the neuropharmacological mechanisms underlying conscious experience.
Olivia completed a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Queensland and subsequently held post-doctoral research fellowships at Harvard University and then the Mental Health Research Institute (now Florey) in Melbourne. Olivia currently heads the Perception and Pharmacology lab at the University of Melbourne where the bulk of her research interests relate to the impact of neurotransmitter systems on cognitive and perceptual function in healthy individuals. Clinically, her research focuses on altered cognitive and perceptual function in psychiatric populations. She also has a strong interest in neuroethics, particularly in relationship to cognitive enhancing agents and technologies. She has previously served as the Executive Director of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and the president of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society.
Please see the event recording below.