Philip Low

Founder, Chairman, and CEO of NeuroVigil, Inc.; Research Affiliate, MIT Media Laboratory; Advisor to the White House and the US-Israel Science and Technology Foundation on health, medicine, and neuroscience policy.

Dr. Philip Low_Headshot

Title: “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness: Causes and Consequences”
Abstract: On July 7th 2012, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was ratified by an international expert panel of neuroscientists, including neurophysiologists, behaviorists, computational neuroscienstists, cognitive neuroscientists, neuroanatomists and neuropharmacologists in Cambridge, UK. This document summarizes decades of peer- reviewed research presented at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals, and rebukes the Cartesian notion that non-human animals are mere biological machines devoid of states for which consciousness is necessary, including feeling states. Indeed if one assumes that higher cognitive states are generated by the nervous system, one cannot, regardless of any operational definition of consciousness, simultaneously assume a priori, given the striking neurobiological similarities across species, that humans alone possess the neurobiological substrates of consciousness. In this talk, I will discuss, in addition to the historical genesis of the Declaration and the associated politically-based hesitations of colleagues in the scientific community, some of the Declaration’s supporting data including peer-reviewed findings which illustrate that the most evolutionary advanced part of the brain, the neocortex, is indeed not necessary for the production of the most evolutionary advanced neurophysiological patterns, including highly elaborate sleep patterns which were recently found in zebra finches. I will also discuss the role the Declaration can play in fostering an understanding of non-human cognition in lay communities, including the legal and judicial sectors, and the need to revise animal research protocols and devise paradigms for human based research which are less wasteful than the current paradigms wherein a pharmaceutical drug has a less than 6% chance of being tested in humans following a significant investment in animal research. I will furthermore discuss examples of non-invasive neurobiological techniques for translational research which do not require the sacrifice of experimental animals. Moreover, I will discuss the successful use of advanced neurotechnologies as a tested paradigm to accelerate human pharmaceutical clinical trials, on pathologies ranging from Down Syndrome, to Autism, OCD, PTSD and TBI and will demonstrate how such technology can be deployed as a “computational patch” for a number of conditions including Locked-In Syndrome.


Bio: Philip Low, inventor, neurotechnologist, and computational neuroscientist, is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of NeuroVigil. As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, he invented novel neurosurgical techniques. At Harvard Medical School, he showed in 9 weeks that a collagen inhibitor could successfully neutralize the growth of fibroid tumors. At the Salk Institute, where he was a Sloan-Swartz, Swartz and Kavli Fellow, he invented the SPEARS algorithm and authored a single-page doctoral dissertation that overturned long-standing beliefs regarding the nature of human and animal neural sleep patterns and made possible the automated and non-invasive single channel detection of REM sleep, cortical and subcortical patterns–providing the foundation for iBrain and the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which recognizes the overwhelming neurobiological similarities between human and non-human animals.

During his twenties, Low held dual appointments at the Stanford School of Medicine and the MIT Media Lab and was named President of the First International Congress on Alzheimer’s Disease and Advanced Neurotechnologies, held in Monaco in February 2010. Low also chaired the first Francis Crick Memorial Conference in Cambridge, UK, in 2012, and is an advisor to the White House and the USISTF on matters of Neuroscience, Health and Technology. To bring his innovations to the market, he founded NeuroVigil, the neurodiagnostics company responsible for iBrain, which is a wireless portable neural monitoring and analytics platform used to monitor non-invasively and remotely such neuropathologies as Alzheimer’s, Autism, Depression, Epilepsy, Gulf War Syndrome, OCD, Parkinson’s, PTSD, TBI and Rett Syndrome, as well as the response of drugs affecting the brain. In the Fall of 2013, NeuroVigil expanded its operations to support research at NASA.

Animal Consciousness: Evidence and Implications

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