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, the project uses 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 discussion paper describing some aspects of the research strategy can be found 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

Project management

Wanja Wiese

Postdoc at the Department of Philosophy,

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

Collaboration partners

Adriana Alcaraz Sánchez

PhD candidate, University of Glasgow, UK

Former project manager of the MPE-network

  • Conscious dreamless sleep

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

  • Conceptual foundations
  • Selfless states of consciousness
  • Buddhist Philosophy

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

  • Questionnaire development
  • Psychometric analysis

Raphaël Millière

PhD candidate University of Oxford, UK
  • Selfless states of consciousness
  • Drug-induced ego dissolution
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
  • Contemplative neuroscience
  • Methodology

Giulio Tononi

Principal Investigator and Director of WISC, Centre for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin, USA

  • Conceptual foundations
  • Methodology
  • Phenomenology of MPE

The MPE-Research Project is currently funded by the Gutenberg Research College

We do accept donations. If you are interested in supporting this research initiative, please contact Dr Wanja Wiese.