The Linda G. O'Bryant Noetic Sciences Research Prize

Exploring the hypothesis that Mind is more than neural function An open Challenge to the Scientific position that Mind = Brain

View the press release

2023 Prize Winners

IONS is pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the Linda G. O’Bryant Noetic Sciences Research Prize! The $100,000 award was shared equally amongst the following three winners, listed alphabetically by author:

Seeing Without Eyes

Alex Gomez-Marin

The prevailing scientific belief is that the mind arises solely from brain activity, ignoring anomalous  phenomena like ‘extra-ocular vision’ (EOV) – the ability to see without physical eyes. This research proposal sets out to defy conventional wisdom through meticulously designed experiments seeking to demonstrate and quantify EOV, particularly in individuals who are blind. Drawing inspiration from Jamesian theories of brain function, which posit that the brain facilitates consciousness rather than produces it, this study endeavors to unveil the profound depth of human existence beyond the confines of the brain. By shedding light on the enigmatic connection between mind and matter, the proposal aims to unveil the pivotal role the brain plays in bridging these realms, unraveling the true essence of what it means to be human.

View the full proposal here.

Conscious Agents and the Subatomic World

Donald David Hoffman, Chetan Prakash, and Benjamin Knepper

The boundaries of our understanding are expanding, challenging traditional notions of reality. Mathematical structures like amplituhedra and decorated permutations have emerged as potentially more significant than the traditional concept of spacetime. In this model, consciousness takes center stage as fundamental, with conscious agents interacting through Markovian dynamics, shaping spacetime as a dynamic interface. To validate this bold hypothesis, a computational experiment is proposed, aiming to demonstrate how the dynamics of these conscious agents can predict the intricate distribution and behavior of quarks and gluons across diverse spatial and temporal scales. This paradigm-shifting proposal opens new doors to unravel the mysteries of our universe and invites us to reevaluate our place within it.

View the full proposal here.

Detecting Deviations from Random Activity as Indications of Consciousness Beyond the Brain

Dr. Wolfhardt Janu, Dr. Vasileios Basios, Dr. Pier Francesco Moretti, Dr. Peter Merry, Dr. Annette Grathoff, and Professor Vicente Arraez

These researchers propose that consciousness extends beyond the brain, interacting with the physical world beyond spacetime. Using Organized Random Event Generators (OREGs), they detect measurable disturbances known as non-local synchronicities. The “Ritual series” experiment explores ritual-related patterns, while the “ICU/Hospice series” connects OREGs to patient rooms, expecting synchronized data with significant events. This proposal provides insightful perspectives on the profound relationship between consciousness and the physical world, reshaping our understanding of existence.

View the full proposal here.

View the press release here.

View the Event Recording

0:00 Intro
28:10 Panel with Theresa Cheung, Jude Currivan, PhD, and Jonathan Schooler, PhD (Moderated by IONS Chief Scientist Dean Radin, MS, PhD)
1:24:46 Wolfhardt Janu’s Presentation “Detecting Deviations from Random Activity as Indications of Consciousness Beyond the Brain”
1:41:35 Don Hoffman’s Presentation “Conscious Agents and the Subatomic World”
1:59:58 Alex Gomez Marin’s Presentation “Seeing Without Eyes”
2:20:23 Panel with Peter Bancel, PhD, Roger Nelson, PhD, Bruce Damer, PhD, and Marilyn Schlitz (PhD) (Moderated By IONS Director of Research Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR)

$100,000 Annual Prize Administered by IONS

The Linda G. O’Bryant Noetic Sciences Research Prize is awarded annually to an individual or team whose research helps extend the science of consciousness beyond the confines of the materialistic paradigm. Realized and administered by the IONS team, the prize augments our global mission in fostering creative and leading-edge approaches to the scientific investigation of consciousness and life. We are profoundly grateful to IONS Board Member and longtime supporter Linda G. O’Bryant for her generosity in establishing this visionary science prize.

Prevailing neuroscience theories of consciousness are grounded 17th-century physics. The physicalist assumption purports that material substrates in the brain, like neurons, have evolved to attain a level of complexity that ultimately gives rise to the emergence of consciousness (or, subjective awareness). Although this stance remains a hypothesis, it has lead some to make excessive claims about consciousness and human existence (“You are a machine made of meat.” –Marvin Minsky; “You are nothing but a pack of neurons.” –Francis Crick).

The aim of the Linda G. O’Bryant Prize is to support research on non-physicalist models of consciousness. These do not assume that a physical substrate generates consciousness; may allow that consciousness is as fundamental as matter, energy, or spacetime; and consider that the physical world might arise out of consciousness rather than the other way around. These perspectives, while as yet marginal for Western science, nevertheless underlie most ancient, esoteric, and Eastern cultures. Could such a non-physicalist framework better explain the full range of reported human phenomenology? Scholars and scientists have debated this question for thousands of years with no clear resolution. New models, experiments and data are needed to inform the research and advance our scientific understanding of consciousness. The goal of the Linda G. O’Bryant Prize is to provide ongoing support for this endeavor.

2023 Prize Topic

The inaugural Prize is for an essay that addresses the topic: How can the viability of the non-physicalist hypothesis be empirically tested? Or, alternately: What empirical test can demonstrate the inadequacy of physicalist models of consciousness? The Prize will be awarded to the entry proposing the most incisive and clearly feasible experimental or empirical test of one or both of these questions. Proposals will describe in detail the development and execution of scientific tests of the hypothesis that subjective phenomenological awareness is more than an emergent brain property. Tests must be feasible using currently available scientific methods, and support the alternative to the materialist stance that consciousness originates solely from the (classical) physical structures of the brain.


  • Consciousness means the subjective sense of being aware of oneself and the environment.
  • Experiment means a rigorously designed scientific study, including conventional or novel instrumentation, predefined protocols, and statistical analyses, as appropriate. 
  • Testable means the proposed theory must be falsifiable.
  • Practical means the proposed theory must be feasible, assuming adequate resources. 

The winning essay will receive a cash prize of $100,000. The application for the 2023 prize is now closed.

This prize is administered by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) thanks to the generous gift from Linda G. O’Bryant, Chair of the IONS Board Development Committee.

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Edgar Mitchell Overview Effect:
A Virtual Reality Experience

The Linda G. O’Bryant Noetic Sciences Research Prize is inspired by IONS’ 50-year legacy. This legacy began when Apollo 14 astronaut and IONS founder, Dr. Edgar Mitchell had an epiphany in space. He began to question the prevailing scientific theory in which consciousness is a product of the human brain. The Edgar Mitchell Overview Effect Virtual Reality Experience allows you to experience a short account of Dr. Mitchell’s epiphany.

This virtual reality experience is online and free to the public. A 2D version is also available for those who don’t have access to virtual reality equipment.


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