The study of consciousness has advanced rapidly over the last two decades. And yet there is no clear path to creating models for a direct science of human experience or for integrating its insights with those of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. In Inner Experience and Neuroscience, Donald Price and James Barrell show how a science of human experience can be developed through a strategy that integrates experiential paradigms with methods from the natural sciences. They argue that the accuracy and results of both psychology and neuroscience would benefit from an experiential perspective and methods.
Price and Barrell describe phenomenologically based methods for scientific research on human experience, as well as their philosophical underpinnings, and relate these to empirical results associated with such phenomena as pain and suffering, emotions, and volition. They argue that the methods of psychophysics are critical for integrating experiential and natural sciences, describe how qualitative and quantitative methods can be merged, and then apply this approach to the phenomena of pain, placebo responses, and background states of consciousness. In the course of their argument, they draw on empirical results that include qualitative studies, quantitative studies, and neuroimaging studies. Finally, they propose that the integration of experiential and natural science can extend efforts to understand such difficult issues as free will and complex negative emotions including jealousy and greed.
About the Authors
Donald D. Price is Professor Emeritus, Division of Neuroscience, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Florida.
James J. Barrell has been a professor and research psychologist at the universities of Florida and West Georgia. He is currently a consultant for application of experiential methods to psychology and neuroscience.
"Donald Price and Jim Barrell combine their considerable scientific expertise in a thought-provoking treatise on science and human experience. Neuroscience and psychology are interwoven in compelling arguments for integrating traditional scientific approaches with methods for studying internal experiences. Although focused on understanding human pain and suffering, the discussions relate to all sensory experiences—a must read for those interested in sensation or consciousness."—Barry E. Stein, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest School of Medicine
"Emotion and pain are some of the most difficult phenomena to study scientifically. Donald Price and James Barrell have developed an innovative set of methods that promise to revolutionize the way that we approach the scientific investigation of such things. Integrating perspectives that draw from phenomenology, experiential sampling, psychophysics, and experimental psychology, and neuroscience, the authors make clear that we will not understand basic experiences without first understanding the variability of human meaning. I recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding consciousness."—Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Philosophy, University of Memphis
"Donald Price and James Barrell have spent a lot of time experimenting on themselves. In doing so, their research has been powerfully informed by critical first-person experiential perspectives that typified the classic neuroscience investigations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Inner Experience and Neuroscience they lay out a conceptual framework that allows subject-investigators to integrate their own first-person experiential perspectives into rigorously designed modern neuroscience investigations. This work is critically important for anyone examining neural mechanisms supporting any consciously accessible dimension of the human experience."—Robert C. Coghill, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest School of Medicine