Neuroscience & Spirituality (Dennis McKenna) [FULL]


Dennis McKenna, Ph.D. – Neuroscience and Spirituality

from the 2004 Altered States and the Spiritual Awakening conference in San Francisco, California –

Recent scientific advances and new techniques in neuroscience have enabled scientists to study the relationships between brain function and spiritual experiences. This presentation will provide an overview of current research.

Dennis Jon McKenna (born December 17, 1950) is an American ethnopharmacologist and author. His research led to the development of natural products for Aveda Corporation as well as greater awareness of natural products and medicines. He has authored numerous scientific articles and books, including co-authoring the book Invisible Landscape with his brother Terence McKenna. McKenna spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is now a senior research scientist for the Natural Health Products Research Group at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in the Vancouver area.

Dennis McKenna received his Master’s degree in botany at the University of Hawaii in 1979. He received his Doctorate in Botanical Sciences in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where he wrote a dissertation entitled Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in Amazonian hallucinogenic plants: ethnobotanical, phytochemical, and pharmacological investigations. His research has included the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, the subjects of his master’s thesis. He has also conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon.

Dennis Mckenna serves on the Advisory Board of the American Botanical Council, and on the Editorial Board of Phytomedicine, International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. He is a founding board member and Vice-President of the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit scientific organization dedicated to the investigation of therapeutic applications for psychedelic plants and compounds. He has also served as board member and Research Advisor to Botanical Dimensions, a non-profit organization dedicated to the investigation of ethnomedically significant plants. He was a primary organizer and key scientific collaborator for the Hoasca Project, an international biomedical study of Hoasca, a psychoactive drink used in ritual contexts by indigenous peoples and syncretic religious groups in Brasil. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brasilian Amazon. He has served as invited speaker at numerous scientific congresses, seminars, and symposia. Dr. McKenna is author or co-author of over 35 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, European Journal of Pharmacology, Brain Research, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Economic Botany, and elsewhere.

Research Interests:
Ethnopharmacology & Ethnobotany
Natural Products and Drug Discovery
Amazonian ethnomedicine

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