Nightmares & Phantasms: A Neuroscientist's Guide, with Dr. Ashish Ranpura

Why do some people think ghosts exist? What neurological properties allow the brain to create these visions? Can those mechanisms be engaged purposefully -- and even expanded?

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In this exploration of the neurology of nightmares, hallucinations and phantasms, we will examine cracks in perception - the small gaps into which our imaginations and assumptions tumble and cavort to create the technicolor worlds we believe that we inhabit.

Dr. Ranpura will take us on a whirlwind alphabetical tour of unusual and curious neurological syndromes, from Alien Limb Syndrome, Balint's Syndrome, and Charles Bonnet Syndrome all the way through to Xenobiotic delusions. This will lead us into a discussion of normal perception, and the degree to which the brain filters and changes everything we apprehend through our senses. Perception, perhaps, is less about seeing what's out there than knowing what's in there.


Dr. Ash Ranpura

Ash is a neuroscientist and clinical neurologist who has been active in brain research for over 20 years.

He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University, completed an M.D. at the Medical College of Ohio, and carried out his Ph.D. research at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in Queen Square, London, one of the most prestigious neurological centres in the world.

He was a co-founder of Café Scientifique at the Photographers' Gallery in London, a founding editor at BrainConnection magazine in San Francisco, and a writer at National Public Radio's "Science Friday" in New York. He frequently chairs public science events for organisations including the British Council and the American Medical Association.

He is currently working on a project with Ruby Wax and a Buddhist monk about mindfulness & contentment which we hope at some stage to bring to The Ebenezer.

Dr. Ash last came to The Ebenezer in 2012 with his incredibly popular and entertaining talk on The Neurochemistry of Love.

He lives in Somerset with his wife, the novelist Susan Elderkin, and their son.

2017Martin Keeley