Wittgenstein once said that no one could have an experience and wonder whose experience it was. An experience I feel has to be my experience and it is conceptually impossible to think otherwise. However, when something goes awry in the injured brain the conceptually impossible becomes possible for certain patients. So the nature of consciousness and how we experience it depends on the proper functioning of the brain. We can be aware in moving our bodies that it is our own body we are moving, and we may still have a feeling of being the agent of that movement, but it may not be our conscious decisions that initiate those movements.
10 March 2012
Barry Smith on why neuroscience and philosophy must work together (here):-
07 March 2012
UCL Centre for the History of Medicine wishes to appoint two Teaching Fellows to teach modules on the intercalated BSc in History of Medicine (a one year degree course for third year medical students) and the MA in History of Medicine (job description here). Programme modules currently include Medicine in Literature, Disease in History, Madness and Society, Medicine and Modern Society, and Early Modern English Medicine. We also encourage applicants with expertise in other areas to apply. The teaching will include two / three modules (20 student contact hours per module), small-group and one-to-one tutorials, marking essays, examinations and dissertations.
The posts are available from September 2012 and are funded for one year in the first instance.
Post holders must have a PhD in History of Medicine and prior teaching experience. The post of teaching fellow is intended for early careerists who will be expected to apply for post-doctoral funding during the year of appointment. An ability to develop programme content is essential and experience with virtual learning environments such as Moodle would be an advantage.
06 March 2012
05 March 2012
We invite abstract submissions for an interdisciplinary workshop, which will be held at Clarkson University on May 4th and 5th, 2012.
Handling the brain; examining the body; preparing capillary tubes; dissecting a rat hippocampus; sectioning and staining tissue samples; stereoscopy; freezing microtomes; electroencephalography; cinematography; psychometric tests; fMRI; psychoactive drugs – these are but a few examples of techniques, technologies and therapies that have had enormous import in the medicine of the mind and brain. While receiving increasing attention over the past several decades, the clinical specialties that deal with the brain and the mind – psychiatry, psychology, neurology, neurosurgery – have mostly been discussed in isolation of one another. We therefore propose a workshop that brings together scholars who are interested in these medical specialties to address the complicated relationship between medical practice and the techniques, technologies, and therapies that inform it.
From talk therapy to stem cell therapy, from X-rays to fMRIs, from subtemporal decompression to deep-brain stimulation, over the past century and a half different kinds of techniques and technologies have shaped clinical practice and medical epistemology, while at the same time staging an intervention in the doctor-patient relationship and buttressing the cultural authority of the medical specialties of the mind and brain. Such techniques, technologies, and therapies open puzzling historical, sociological, and anthropological questions: What is the relationship between technique, technology and therapy? How have each separately constructed the medicine of the mind and brain? In what ways have they informed scientific knowledge and clinical practice? How are they circulated, exchanged, moved, and commodified? Is there an easy translation among them; are there evident disruptions and slippages between them? By inviting scholars to discuss case studies that address specific techniques and technologies, we seek to train an analytic spotlight on therapy and to shed light on the ways in which therapy played a similar or different role in the history of each of the specialties that focused on mind and brain medicine. We invite papers that explore these questions empirically or theoretically from any disciplinary perspective.
Located in Potsdam, NY, Clarkson University is a small engineering university just north of the Adirondack Mountains. Potsdam can be easily reached by car from Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal or by first flying to Ottawa, Montreal, Albany, or Syracuse and then renting a car and driving from those locations.
Please send a 300-word abstract by March 16th, 2012 to Stephen Casper and Delia Gavrus (StephenTCasper@gmail.com)
Stephen T Casper (Humanities & Social Sciences, Clarkson University)
Delia Gavrus (Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University)
04 March 2012
A medical student reflects on five weeks in neurology training:-
This is my last week of neurology attachment. As a student, over the past five weeks I have been exposed to general neurology, the branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. I think a major part of my enjoyment in doing this placement is because of my great interest in how the brain works (who isn't interested in how the brain works anyway?).
In an interview in the LA Times, neuroeconomist Paul Zak says brain science let him embrace "love" and "morality":
I think we're taking a real shot at understanding moral philosophy and social organization. Neuroeconomics gives us a new lens to understand how we've organized our world. It lets me embrace words like "morality" or "love" or "compassion" in a non-squishy way. It says, "These are real things, this is really part of our human nature, and we should embrace that."
03 March 2012
01 March 2012
Today the Nuffield Council on Bioethics launches its consultation on novel neurotechnologies that intervene in the brain as part of its inquiry into the issues raised by these technologies. They invite you to submit a response to their consultation.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent body based in the UK that examines the ethical, social and legal issues raised by new developments in biological and medical research, and recently it has established a Working Party to consider the issues raised by novel neurotechnologies that intervene in the brain, such as neurostimulation, brain–computer interfaces and neural stem cell therapy. As you will be aware, these neurotechnologies are the focus of intense research for the development of new treatments for diseases such as dementia and conditions like severe brain injury. There is also significant ongoing research into the development of non-medical applications like computer gaming and human enhancement.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics would very much like to hear your thoughts on these neurotechnologies. The consultation can be found here. The deadline for responses is 23 April 2012, 5pm. All responses will be considered and a report will be published during autumn 2013.