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 mybrain do mythoughts comefrom?

    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 our cousins?

    Does our
    differ from that
    of our cousins?

Archive for the ‘Horizon Research’ Category

A special series on consciousness from The Guardian

Monday, 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!

Thursday, 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

Friday, 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

Friday, 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

Sunday, 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

Saturday, 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?

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

Sunday, 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.

Von Lommel talks out of body – Yale News

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Read about a recent presentation by Dr van Lommel on near death experiences (NDEs) and out of body experiences (OBEs).  Although the incidence of NDEs in the population is important (9 million people in the USA alone, according to Dr Van Lommel), they belong to the realm of subjective experiences and thus cannot be studied by current scientific methods. Patients’ memories during OBEs instead can be objectively verified by nurses, relatives and doctors…. Hence, could these experiences offer a way to indirectly learn more about the nature of consciousness and whether or not it is a separate entity from the brain?

Von Lommel talks out of body, Yale Daily News

The Cool Study

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010


The COOL study blog  img

The COOL study

As you may recall we brought our readers some information regarding this study. Dr Mario Beauregard of the University of Montreal recently told us during a telephone interview that they have completed a preliminary questionnaire survey of patients who have undergone “standstill surgery” – better known as deep hypothermic surgery. During this procedure patients are cooled to a temperature below 20 Celsius which leads to a state in which there is no measurable brain activity, no heart beat or breathing and hence physiologically akin to clinical death. The goal of this study is to determine whether patients can have awareness and conscious processes during this time when the brain has stopped measurable electrical activity. Dr Beauregard explained “It is going well as we had had a number of people report conscious awareness and memories from their period of standstill surgery. This now justifies the need to conduct a prospective study to evaluate the claims that patients have of being aware and able to see things from above during this incredible surgery”

Read more on our site: The Cool Study

We will also bring further updates on this study in January 2011

Comments on Eastwood’s “The Hereafter”

Monday, November 1st, 2010

The new movie directed by Clint Eastwood , “The Hereafter,” is a welcome
exploration of what happens when we die.  Eastwood brings the topic to mainstream movie audiences with just enough scientific facts and open ended questions to allow the general public the ability to have an open-mindedness about the subject of dying and death.

The limited scientific exploration and discussion, however, makes it seem like the study of near death experiences is in it’s very early stages whereas there are large, worldwide studies already in place by several well regarded institutions and professionals. See our Research Zone.  Also, see an article from The Wall Street Journal, Seeking Proof in Near Death Claims.

Gladly, having Eastwood and Hollywood take on the subject of what happens when we die in such a well balanced and “not over the top” manner (the mediumship scenes and after death visions are restrained) will hopefully continue to open our collective consciousness to further explore the reality of human consciousness and death.

There are an abundance of reviews for The Hereafter, here you will find several links to national reviews for “The Hereafter.

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