2nd Annual

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

$100,000 Annual Prize Administered by IONS

2024 Prize Topic – Review and comparative analysis of theories of non-local consciousness

By consciousness, we mean first-person subjective awareness. By non-local, we mean a form of consciousness that is not exclusively generated by neuronal activity and that extends beyond the brain and body. The comparative analysis will review theories suggesting that (a) consciousness is not constrained by the brain, the everyday boundaries of space and time, or by the traditional five senses, and/or that (b) consciousness, via focused attention and intention, can potentially influence aspects of the physical world at a distance. The term non-local consciousness (NC) is used to encompass this definition. 

The review will highlight theories supported by empirical evidence rather than purely philosophical ones. The philosophical implications and a discussion of how the theories may be tested will also be included. The target audience for the review would be the general public.

In Phase 1 of the prize essay process, candidates will submit a letter of intent explaining why they believe they can provide a comprehensive review. Three finalists will be chosen from these applicants. In Phase 2, finalists will be invited to submit their reviews. More details about these two Phases are described below.

See 2024 prize finalists

Six judging criteria:
  1. Comprehensive: The review should be comprehensive and exhibit familiarity with a broad range of relevant theories proposed to explain NC phenomena. This should include modern scientific and scholarly theories, as well as theories based on ancient or esoteric models of reality that accommodate or explicitly include NC phenomena.
  2. Critical analysis: Reviews will exhibit a high level of analytical rigor in examining NC theories, including any supporting empirical evidence, if available.
  3. Comparative scope: Similarities, differences, weaknesses, and strengths of the considered theories should be included. The review should also classify the type of theory (e.g., mechanistic, mathematical, field-like, etc.) and its philosophical framework (i.e., idealism, panpsychism, dual-aspect monism).
  4.  Empirical implications:  The review should identify empirically testable predictions that might allow for the adjudication between alternative theories.
  5. Clarity and accessibility: Clear and concise communication is critical. The educated general public should be able to read and understand the review. Illustrations or other graphical representations are required to help facilitate understandability by the general public. Reviews that include or cite open-access searchable databases (see ConTraSt Database for an example) are also desirable.
  6. Originality: The judging panel will value the originality of the approach. For example, does the review draw groundbreaking conclusions? Does it propose a new theory or introduce innovative approaches toward empirical investigations, new methodologies, or other forms of novel contributions to the discourse?

Applicants may be an individual or a team. Applicants must include at least one person with experience in conducting a comprehensive review in a scholarly or scientific field. 

Award prizes:

The three finalists will receive cash prizes totaling $100,000. The IONS board advisors will determine the prize amount for the first, second, and third awards based on the scope of work of the reviews.

Two-Stage Proposal Submission:

Phase 1: Interested applicants must submit a letter of intent and CV. The top three applicants will be selected for Phase 2.

Phase 2: The final reviews will be at least 10,000 words and suitable for publication as a monograph (or equivalent, if the reviews include online resources) issued by IONS.


LOI applications were due March 31, 2024

Finalists chosen by May 1, 2024

Finalist reviews are due September 30, 2024

Final winners decided and announced by October 31, 2024

See 2024 prize finalists


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

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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