News Release

International debate about one of the most enigmatic aspects of our existence: Time

The 13th Symposium of the BIAL Foundation “Behind and Beyond the Brain” gathers prominent scientists and philosophers to engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue about “The mystery of time”.

Meeting Announcement

BIAL Foundation

13th Symposium "Behind and Beyond the Brain"

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Credit: BIAL Foundation

The 13th Symposium “Behind and Beyond the Brain” will be held from April 6 to 9, 2022, at Casa do Médico, Porto, Portugal. The event will be organised in a hybrid format involving both in-person and virtual participants to be accessible to a wider audience. Registrations are open and available here.

Under the theme “The mystery of time”, the 13th Symposium of the BIAL Foundation gathers some of the most prominent scientists and philosophers to engage in a resolutely interdisciplinary dialogue around the many aspects of time: its very nature, which physicists continue debating; the subjective feelings its passage elicits in humans and other animals; the fundamental questions it is associated with, such as the thorny problem of causality.

The Symposium will open on April 6th with an evening lecture by TED-speaker Anil Seth (Sussex, UK), who will explore what we know about the perception of time in humans, brains and in machines, highlighting the idea that the brain is a “prediction machine”.

Moderated by Etzel Cardeña (Lund, SE), the first session will take place on April 7th and will be dedicated to the physics of time. Orfeu Bertolami (Porto, PT), Jimena Canales (Urbana-Champaign, USA), Daniel Sheehan (San Diego, USA) and Patricia Cyrus (Orlando, USA) will explore how physicists conceive of time today, and how their theories are shaped by what we know about the perception of time.

The second session, taking place on April 8th, is aimed at surveying the biology of time. Miguel Castelo-Branco (Coimbra, PT) will moderate a session during which Julia Mossbridge (San Diego and Petaluma, USA), Michael Brecht (Berlin, Germany) and Joseph S. Takahashi (Dallas, USA),will discuss the many ways in which neural systems respond to time in the absence of specific receptors systems dedicated to perceive it.

On April 9th, the third session, moderated by Caroline Watt (Edinburgh, UK), will focus on the experience of time. Dean Buonomano (Los Angeles, USA), Chris Roe (Northampton, UK), and Jennifer Coull (Marseille, France) will examine what it is like to feel the passage of time, how brains and bodies shape our perception of it, and how future events may affect us.

In addition to the opening event and the three main sessions, the Symposium will also feature other events: oral poster presentations by BIAL Foundation grant holders (April 7th); four participatory parallel workshops dedicated to (1) the physics and metaphysics of time, (2) precognition and anomalous experiences, (3) the experience of time in altered states of consciousness, and (4) perception and memory of time on April 8th; and a closing conversation time on the mystery of time moderated by science journalist Teresa Firmino on April 9th.

The Organizing Committee of the 13th Symposium of the BIAL Foundation “Behind and Beyond the Brain” is presided by Axel Cleeremans (Brussels) and includes Etzel Cardeña (Lund), Miguel Castelo-Branco (Coimbra), Rui Costa (New York and Lisbon), Rainer Goebel (Maastricht), Stefan Schmid (Freiburg) and Caroline Watt (Edinburgh).

Since 1996 the Symposia entitled “Behind and Beyond the Brain” are held every two years gathering the researchers supported by the BIAL Foundation and the scientific community of neuroscience and parapsychology areas.

“Placebo effects, Healing and Meditation”, “Mind-matter Interactions”, “Sleep and Dreams”, “Intuition and Decision-making”, “Memory”, “Exceptional Experiences”, “Emotions” or the most recent “Enhancing the Mind”, were some of the themes already debated in the Symposia of the BIAL Foundation.

More information here.

Note for editors: If you are interested in interviewing any of the speakers or members of the Organizing Committee, please contact

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