Can science explain consciousness? Lessons from coma and related states with Steven Laureys

Science & Cocktails

Can patients be conscious after coma? Can there be consciousness or recovery after a brain death? Do near-death experiences exist? Is your dog conscious? Is your new-born conscious?

What makes the impulses from billions of neurons in our brain consciousness? This question has occupied philosophers since ancient times. New brain scanners are now able to reveal parts of this mystery. The study of coma, anesthesia, sleep, dementia, and hypnosis teach us what parts of the brain are important for human consciousness. This knowledge has direct medical and ethical implications, particularly to what concerns the care of patients in brain death, coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state and ‘locked-in’ syndrome or pseudo coma.

What is consciousness? Will we ever be able to read minds? How can we know if patients in coma are aware and how to communicate with them? Steven Laureys, one of the world experts in consciousness research, will walk us through the recent findings and evidence for a new understanding of consciousness and how all these peculiar brain states (coma, near-death, etc…) reveal to us the inner mysteries of the brain.