Horizon Research
Materials on this website have been reviewed or prepared by physicians and/or scientists actively involved in research in relation to the subjects being covered.
  • Where in my brain do my thoughts come form?

    Where in my
    brain do my
    thoughts come

  • Investigating science at the horizon of life.

    science at the
    horizon of life.

  • What happens when we die?

    What happens
    when we die?

  • When do we first become aware of who we are?

    When do we
    first become
    aware of who
    we are?

  • Does our consciousness differ from that of out cousins?

    Does our
    differ from that
    of out cousins?

A special series on consciousness from The Guardian

March 5th, 2012

The series, “Consciousness: The hard problem,” does an excellent job of posing questions about consciousness related to science, philosophy, and Read more
about the “Eight questions science must answer:”

  1. What are the critical brain regions for consciousness?
  2. What are the mechanisms of general anaesthesia?
  3. What is the self?
  4. What determines experiences of volition and ‘will’?
  5. What is the function of consciousness? What are experiences for?
  6. How rich is consciousness?
  7. Are other animals conscious?
  8. Are vegetative patients conscious?

Then come back and explore our “Learning Zone,” where we have more material, for example:
Consciousness and the Mind/Brain Problem.

Horizon Research Foundation img

Let’s go viral with our video!

July 28th, 2011

What Happens When We Die video
Thank you all for viewing our animated, short video on YouTube “What Happens When We Die.” We have gotten over 42,000 viewers. Let’s try for 40,000 more!

Upcoming series of articles on the near death experience phenomenon or NDE

July 8th, 2011

It is our pleasure to inform you that, given Horizon Research Foundation’s interest to study the state of the human mind at the end of life, in the upcoming months our editorial board will publish a series of articles aimed at providing an overview of the NDE phenomenon such as its characteristics, its incidence, theories for causation, scientific studies, current and forthcoming etc…

Although some of you may have read personal accounts by people having lived through an NDE and may have also heard of the debates surrounding this subject, you may not be aware that there are some researchers who have begun studying the NDE phenomenon.

Through these articles, we at the Horizon Research Foundation would like to introduce you to this fascinating field, keep you updated on the latest studies and thereby also increase public awareness of the fact that this field is extremely exciting and important since it may hold the key to some of the questions that, to this day and age, still go unanswered and concern us all, namely:

  • the mystery of death
  • the nature of the self, of our consciousness and mind

We also hope to convey that, although some of the accounts are subjective and rich in emotional content, just like all human experiences such as (for instance) anger, jealousy, and compassion, the NDE phenomenon can also be studied through rigorous scientific means. In other words, although it is sometimes viewed by some with a certain degree of skepticism, it can be studied under the rigors of science. It will also become clear that, even if still in its infancy, the study of what happens when we die as well as of the NDE phenomenon, has already attracted the interest of researchers, and has become the object of scientific studies as exemplified by publications in respected peer reviewed scientific journals

We hope you will enjoy the Special Section.

The Pursuit of Immortality

April 8th, 2011

The Pursuit of ImmortalityThis lecture was presented by the Nour Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. The lecture: The Pursuit of Immortality: From the Ego to the Soul included the panelists:
John Haught, PhD, Georgetown University
Kenneth Miller, PhD, Brown University
Nancey Murphy, PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary

A segment of the six part series, this conversation was thoughtful and raised many interesting questions like: along the path of evolution, when did we obtain souls? Is an agnostic a more spiritually inclined individual because they ask more questions?

A three year old visits heaven

March 13th, 2011

Heaven Is For Real, is the story of Colton Burpo. When he was three years old he had a medical emergency and experienced what he is calling “heaven.” The New York Times review the book in their March 11, 2011 issue: “Celestial Sales For Boy’s Tale of Heaven.”

Exploring medically induced coma

March 19th, 2011

An interesting interview appeared in the New York Times, February 28, 2011 called: “Call It a Reversible Coma, Not Sleep.” In the article, Dr. Emery Neal Brown, is a professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School, a professor of computational neuroscience at M.I.T. and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The study of the brain and consciousness near death is one of the areas of research that the Horizon Foundation explores.  It is additionally fascinating to include the state of consciousness during medically induced-coma (via anesthesia). Dr. Brown states:

 “It’s a reversible drug-induced coma, to simplify. As with a coma that’s the result of a brain injury, the patient is unconscious, insensitive to pain, cannot move or remember. However, with anesthesia, once the drugs wear off, the coma wears off.”

When a patient is in a medically induced coma, what happens to the consciousness or the “I am” of the individual?

The mind : from a science of learning to read to a science of learning ethical behaviour. Can your thoughts really “recycle” and change your brain?

March 6th, 2011

Recycle Bins img
Although the debate regarding whether it is mind that activates the human brain or whether it is the brain that activates the mind has fascinated humankind for centuries, a new study published in the prestigious scientific journal Science seems to suggest that the mind and thoughts can indeed change the structure of the brain. So what they say is true – we really are what we think and should not underestimate the power of our thoughts!

It has become increasingly clear in recent times that the mind and thoughts do shape and modify human brain function but a recent study by Stanislas Dehaene, a French cognitive neuroscientist at the College de France and research by other groups have shed even more light on this process.
Read more…

An overview of the book, The Future of the Brain: The Promise and Perils of Tomorrow’s Neuroscience, by Steven Rose

December 19th, 2010

The Future of the Brain
Amongst those who think that the mind is not a non-physical, separate entity from the brain, there are still many who think the mind is more than just the brain. Dr Rose, a neuroscientist from the UK, who wrote a thought provoking book by the title The Future of the Brain: The Promise and Perils of Tomorrow’s Neuroscience is one of those who thinks that since the brain and body are intimately interconnected, one cannot really consider the brain separately and that the mind is certainly also influenced by the combination of the brain, body as well as by their interactions with the environment.

How is that different from reductionism? Well, according to Dr Rose, the idea behind reductionism is that you can explain a phenomenon by completely breaking it down into its parts. Hence, reductionists would suggest that once the functioning of the different parts of the brain was completely understood then one would understand how the mind was generated. This is not Dr Rose’s view however and he feels that even if people had the same genetic make-up (a clone), behavior would be different because of the interaction of the environment.

Dr Rose insists repeatedly on the fact that the mind is more than just the brain. For instance emotions shape what we think and they engage both our brain as well as our bodies via hormones and other biochemicals. Because of this he feels the brain-body distinction is obsolete and because of their intimate interconnection they need to be considered together. In the same way, he feels that although genes specify what the brain (and the body) can become, the brain has plasticity in that what actually occurs is the result of experience. In other words, as already discussed in other articles on this web site, the brain is not made of hard wiring that stays the same once it is formed.

Dr Rose also feels we are still a long way from understanding how the brain and body generate the mind and in his book he warns us against the dangers of the reductionist view. A view only too readily embraced by pharma companies when they launch their drugs despite the fact that their mechanisms of action are often poorly understood or are based on an incomplete understanding of what neurotransmitters do.

Finally Dr Rose insists on the fact that, irrespective of the phenomenon being studied, the types of questions asked and what we look for, are always the result of a certain view of things, a certain world view. Because of this, the reductionist view may result in restraining considerably the questions being asked and missing the overall picture. Likewise, the questions being asked are also influenced significantly by the tools we have because these also affect the way we see the world. For instance, functional MRI opened up new possibilities in understanding how the brain works but the danger is that our questions become too narrow and dependent on those aspects that can be studied by this tool.

600 dying to tell tales of passing over

December 19th, 2010

Read about New Zealand’s first major Near Death Experiences Study and how “the elements that are emerging cross cultural boundaries”. For instance, irrespective of the time elapsed since the experience took place, people’s memories remain very lucid. Academics Tassel and Murray will complete the study by mid-2012 and hope that their work will be of help to people in the grieving process and to those who work with terminally ill patients.


What is neuroplasticity and what does it have to do with me?

November 11th, 2010

Did you know that researchers have demonstrated repeatedly how negative information has a greater impact on the brain than positive information? Learn how through humor-based therapies and by leveraging the brain’s ability to change its structure and functioning through experiences and the conscious use of directed thoughts (referred to as neuroplasticity), the impact of negative experiences can be decreased.
Humor, Neuroplasticity and the Power To Change Your Mind

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