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Founded in 1994, the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness is a professional membership organization that aims to encourage research on consciousness in cognitive science, neuroscience, philosophy, and other relevant disciplines in the sciences and humanities, directed toward understanding the nature, function, and underlying mechanisms of consciousness. In 2006 the executive committee of the association was composed as follows: Daniel Dennett (President), Stanislas Dehaene, Michael Gazzaniga, Geraint Rees, Axel Cleeremans, Alva Noë, Thomas Metzinger, Susana Martinez-Conde, and Patrick Wilken (chair).
Since 1997, the ASSC has organised annual conferences to promote interaction and spread knowledge of scientific and philosophical advances in the field of consciousness research. The 2005 meeting was held at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. Approximately 260 people attended this meeting, with more than 130 papers being presented. In 2006 the tenth annual meeting will be held at St. Anne's College, Oxford, from June 23th-26th. The key organizer for the 2006 meeting is Geraint Rees. Future meetings are planned for Las Vegas in 2007, and Taipei in 2008.
In addition to organizing annual meetings, the association promotes the academic study of consciousness in a number of other ways:
- the society also publishes occasional edited books on selected topics. To date three books have been published: (2005) Steven Laureys Progress in Brain Research, The boundaries of consciousness: neurobiology and neuropathology, Elsevier. ISBN 0444518517.; (2003) Axel Cleeremans (Ed.) The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration, and Dissociation, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198508573.; and (2000) Thomas Metzinger The Neural Correlates of Consciouness: Empirical and Conceptual Questions, MIT Press. ISBN 0262133709.;
- the society awards the annual William James Prize for an outstanding published contribution to the empirical or philosophical study of consciousness by a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar within five years of receiving a PhD or other advanced degree.
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