From October 17 to 18, 2019, an international “competing” project on two opposite consciousness theories was officially launched in Chicago prior to the 49th Annual Meeting of Society for Neuroscience (SFN), trying to accelerate the understanding of human consciousness through new ideas and approaches.
The project is entitled “Accelerating Research on Consciousness: A Cooperating Verification of the Opposite Predictions of GNW and IIT”. The project has its roots in the famous physics experiment in 1919, which is to verify the different predictions of Einstein’s general relativity and Newton’s theory of universal gravitation in a specific situation through a third-party experiment. There are two mainstream theories in the study of consciousness at present：Global Workspace Theory (GNW) and Integrated Information Theory (IIT). The founders of the two theories Professor Stanislas Dehaene of the Collège de France in Paris and Professor Giulio Tononi of University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States will have a discussion face to face to facilitate adversarial collaboration under certain experiment conditions. Six labs around the world will use three kinds of brain imaging techniques (functional MRI, MEG and EEG, IEEG) to do independent verifications.
Luo Huan’s lab at Peking University was invited as one of the six laboratories to conduct experiments and verifications together with Kreiman Lab of Harvard University, Blumenfeld Lab of Yale University, Ole Jensen’s lab of Birmingham University, Floris de Lange’s lab of Donders Institute in the Netherlands, Lucia Melloni’s lab of Max Planck Institute in Germany. Members of the steering committee of this project include Christof Koch, Stanislas Dehaene, Giulio Tononi, David Chalmers and many other world-renowned scholars in the field of consciousness research.
The project is carried out in the way of open science. Before the formal operation of the experiment, research hypotheses, experimental paradigms, experimental data analysis and experimental data interpretation will be pre-registered. All data and analysis tools will be shared publicly after the project is completed. It is hoped that through such a way of theoretical confrontation, prior disclosure of hypotheses and experimental design, independent verification and data sharing, the progress of consciousness research could be promoted and a new way of the cooperation on scientific research could be encouraged and led.