Student Webinar on the Senses

In elementary school, we learn about the five senses and their vital importance to appreciating life. Taste, smell, touch, hearing, and vision are all vital to survival, and even with the absence of one or more, our bodies compensate by strengthening the senses we do have. But what about using our senses in a more advanced setting, like mind reading?

That idea was addressed in “Sense and Sensibilities,” a Brain Awareness Week webinar last Tuesday by students at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). They took turns explaining the mechanisms behind our senses and explored the extraordinary ways in which our touch, hearing, and vision can be used.

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Neuroethics Seminar Series: Seeing Consciousness

shutterstock_221470261How is new technology helping us gain a better understanding of consciousness in patients with severe brain damage? If a patient is unable to communicate or even blink, does that mean he or she is completely unaware? At what point should the intentions stated in a living will be determined by the patient’s family or surrogate?

These questions were among the issues discussed at Harvard Medical School’s most recent neuroethics seminar, titled “Seeing Consciousness: The Promise and Perils of Brain Imaging in Disorders of Consciousness.” The school’s  Center for Bioethics invited Joseph Giacino, Ph.D., director of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; Joseph Fins, M.D., chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College; and James Bernat, M.D., Louis and Ruth Frank Professor of Neuroscience at The Dartmouth Institute to share the stage and give a brief talk for its Neuroethics Seminar Series.

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