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  • Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer
    Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology
    Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. John Gruzelier
    Department of Behavioural & Cognitive Sciences
    Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine London, UK
  • Prof. Dr. Peter J. Lang
    Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention
    University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
  • Prof. Dr. Dietrich Lehmann
    The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research
    University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zürich, Switzerland
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. R. Miltner
    Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology
    Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Inge Strauch
    Department of Clinical Psychology
    University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Prof. Dr. Dieter Vaitl
    Center for Psychobiology and Behavioral Medicine
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany
  • Dr. Jiri Wackermann
    Laboratory of Psychophysiology at the IGPP
    Freiburg i. Br., Germany


Aims of the ASC Consortium


Interest in ASC

The upsurge of serious interest in altered states of consciousness is not new, and is going to become increasingly important in modern-day life. This interest is driven by the fact that beneath man's thin veneer of consciousness one can find a relatively uncharted realm of mental activities, the nature and function of which have been neither systematically explored, nor adequately conceptualized. Nevertheless the individual experience of an altered state of consciousness possesses the property of uniqueness, peculiarity and sometimes that of a feared event. An altered state of consciousness for a given individual is one in which he or she clearly feels a qualitative shift in his or her pattern of mental functioning. There are numerous clinical studies and research reports on sensory deprivation, daydreaming, hypnosis, meditation, states of dissociation, and last but not least, on the wide variety of pharmacologically induced aberration of mental states.


New Methods and Models

In the past, an enormous effort has been made to explore the nature of brain functions and of man's consciousness. In the meantime, there are new and sophisticated methods and techniques available which permit a deeper insight into the mechanisms of information processing, emotional responses, and social behavior. In addition, the concepts and models developed by the neuropsychological disciplines are also apt and flexible enough to be integrated into the exploration and conceptualization of altered states of consciousness. Thus, the time is ripe for taking up - after three decades of mere passivity - the challenge to again devote scientific efforts to altered states of consciousness.


A Psychophysiological Model of ASC

The research situation in the area of ASC still displays certain deficiencies. The rapid development of the neurosciences hardly left any traces on this field. Still, ASC research is dominated by intermittent psychological, most often phenomenological approaches. To allow psychophysiological and neuroscientific approaches a greater impact on ASC research, an ASC research consortium was founded in 1997, in which various psychophysiological workgroups take part. These groups attempt to take up different topics of ASC research with those psychophysiological methods, for which they have a longstanding expertise. The central idea is the development of a psychophysiological model of ASC. This model should encompass the general aspects of ASC. It also should include the specific features of these states and their changes that result from different induction methods.