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Faculty and Research

Faculty Member

Thomas S. Ray

Thomas S. Ray

Professor, Biology Sutton Hall 210 405-203-0703 Ph.D., Biology - Harvard University, 1981


In July 2021 I retired from OU to work full time at a biotechnology company of which I am the scientific co-founder:

From 2000 to 2021, I conducted research on the human mind at OU: The diverse set of psychoactive drugs collectively represents a rich set of tools for probing the chemical architecture of the human mind. These tools can be used to explore components of the psyche whose discreteness is normally obscured by their being embedded in the complete tapestry of the mind. By activating specific components of the mind, they are made to stand out against the background of the remainder of the psyche. Thus, both their discreteness and their specific contribution to the psychic whole can be better appreciated. This work suggests that the human mind is populated by mental organs, which are defined as populations of neurons which bear specific neurotransmitter receptors on their surface (e.g.: serotonin-7, histamine-1). Some mental organs provide consciousness (in separate adult and childhood forms); others function to shape consciousness (in long and short time-scales); others give salience, meaning or significance to the contents of consciousness, while others provide content to consciousness. Some mental organs support the facilities of language, logic and reason, which appear to be fully developed only in adult humans. Other mental organs provide affective ways of knowing the world, through feeling alone, which provide the complete archaic mind in our developmental and evolutionary antecedents. Mental organs evolve by duplication and divergence, and are the mechanism by which evolution sculpts the mind. Mental organs provide a direct linkage from genes, to proteins, to neural structures, to psychology, providing the missing link between biology and psychology. When seen from this perspective, the mind comes into focus. It has tremendous explanatory and predictive power. The mind has structure, function, process, genetics, development, and evolution. It provides understanding of psychoactive drugs, both psychiatric and recreational. It helps us to understand ourselves and others. It provides new approaches to understanding the etiology and treatment of mental disorders.

Selected Publications:

Have a look at some of my publications on the human mind.

From 1990 to 2001, I conducted research on digital evolution: publications on artificial life.

From 1974 to 1989, I was a tropical biologist: publications on tropical biology.