The MPE project

The Minimal Phenomenal Experience Project

MPE is the abbreviation for ‘minimal phenomenal experience’. The main goal of this research project is to develop a minimal model of conscious experience. One background assumption is that self-consciousness, time representation, and self-location in a spatial frame of reference are not necessary conditions for consciousness to occur. Currently, members of the network use an investigation of the phenomenology and neural correlates of specific subjective experiences in meditation as its main entry point, experiences which are later often described as episodes of ‘pure consciousness’.
  • A first publication introducing some aspects of the general research strategy can be found here.
  • A first psychometric study can be found here.
  • An overview talk plus discussion (September 2020) can be found here.
  • The first two Pufendorf lectures about MPE (October 2021) are here.
  • Videos of talks from our 2021 workshop can be downloaded here.

The MPE Network

Founder and director

Thomas Metzinger

Fellow at the Gutenberg Research College,

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

  • Conceptual foundations
  • Methodology
  • Phenomenology of MPE

Collaboration partners

Adriana Alcaraz Sánchez

PhD candidate, University of Glasgow, UK

Former project manager of the MPE-network

Benjamin Baird

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, 

The University of Texas at Austin, USA

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Conscious dreamless sleep
  • Lucid dreaming

Melanie Boly

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology,

Center for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin, USA

  • Conceptual foundations
  • Methodology
  • Phenomenology of MPE

Monima Chadha

Head of Philosophy,

Monash University, Australia

Cyril Costines

Patriarch of the University of Freiburg

Martin Dresler

Principal investigator of the Donders Sleep & Memory Lab,

Radboud University, Netherlands

  • Conscious experience during sleep

Alex Gamma

Research Assistant, Department of Forensic Psychiatry,

Institute of Forensic Medicine University of Bern, Switzerland

David Higgins

Research Fellow, Tsadra Foundation, NYC, USA

Lars Sandved-Smith

PhD candidate, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), France

Ronald Sladky

Senior Scientist, Social, Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience Unit, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Predictive processing and MPE
  • Brain connectivity
  • fMRI neurofeedback training

Heleen Slagter

Director of the Cognition & Plasticity laboratory, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Evan Thompson

Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

  • Conceptual foundations
  • Methodology
  • Phenomenology of MPE
  • Indian philosophy
  • Relevant publication: Thompson, 2015.

Fynn-Mathis Trautwein

Research fellow, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg, Germany

  • Methodology
  • Neurophenomenology of MPE
  • Self-boundary dissolution in meditation
  • Recent publication: Nave et al., 2021

Toby Woods

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, Melbourne, Australia

  • Phenomenology of MPE
  • Meditation techniques
  • Recent publications: Woods et al., 2020; 2021a; 2021b

We are grateful for funding by the Gutenberg Research College and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


We do accept donations. If you are interested in supporting us, please contact Prof. Dr. Thomas Metzinger.