10 04, 2015

Playing Your Brain’s Symphony: Staying in Tune

If you’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey you’re probably familiar with the movie’s iconic theme song. The piece – Also Sprach Zarathustra by composer Richard Strauss – starts quietly with a low, almost menacing organ. The composer holds the notes for about twenty seconds then breaks the tension with a soft horn that builds into a triumphant bum-bum. A lumbering bass drum enters with what has become an instantly recognizable cadence that resets the music and starts the theme over again. I picked this piece of music because it’s familiar but also to illustrate a point. What would happen if the horn players came in late or played the wrong note? Imagine that familiar drum line sped up or otherwise out of time. These tiny miscues produce big changes in how the composition sounds and feels. The musicians are not synchronized and the song quickly descends into discordant chaos. […]

8 04, 2015

Have you had a personal encounter with God or a Higher Power?

The States of Consciousness Research Team at Johns Hopkins University is conducting an anonymous, web-based research study to characterize experiences of personal divine encounters with something that someone might call “God” (e.g., the God of your understanding), “Higher Power,” or “Ultimate Reality.” In recent years, the Team at Johns Hopkins has conducted survey and laboratory studies investigating spirituality, religion, and altered states of consciousness. This new survey is an important extension of their published and ongoing research on mystical experience, spiritual practice and spiritual transformation. If you’ve ever had a “personal encounter” and would like to participate, please visit