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New Frontiers Seminar - Dr. Adrian Owen

Location:  AA160


Please join us for the next New Frontiers Seminar Series talk which will be given by Dr. Adrian Owen, Department of Psychology, Western University.


His talk is entitled “When Thoughts Become Actions - Imaging in Disorders of Consciousness”.


Professor Adrian M. Owen is currently the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Cognition and Neuroimaging at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. His work combines structural and functional neuroimaging with neuropsychological studies of brain-injured patients. His most recent work, reported in the journals Science (2006), The New England Journal of Medicine (2010), and The Lancet (2011) has shown that functional neuroimaging can reveal conscious awareness in some patients who appear to be entirely vegetative, and can even allow some of these individuals to communicate their thoughts and wishes to the outside world. These findings have attracted widespread media attention on TV, radio, in print and online and have been the subject of several TV and radio documentaries. Dr. Owen has played multiple editorial roles including 8 years as Deputy Editor of The European Journal of Neuroscience. Since 1990, Dr. Owen has published over 200 articles and chapters in scientific journals and books.



In recent years, rapid technological developments in the field of neuroimaging have provided new methods for revealing thoughts, actions and intentions based solely on the pattern of activity that is observed in the brain. In specialized centres, these methods are now being employed routinely to detect consciousness and even to communicate with some behaviourally non-responsive patients who clinically appear to be comatose or in a vegetative state. In this talk, I will compare those circumstances in which neuroimaging data can be used to infer consciousness in the absence of a behavioural response with those circumstances in which it cannot. This distinction is fundamental for understanding and interpreting patterns of brain activity in various states of consciousness (including anesthesia), and has profound implications for clinical care, diagnosis, prognosis and medical-legal decision-making after severe brain injury. It also sheds light on more basic scientific questions about how consciousness is measured and the neural representation of our own thoughts and intentions.


A light lunch will be provided.


The New Frontier Seminar Series is hosted by the Graduate Students' Association at Scarborough (GSAS) and sponsored by the Office of the Vice-Principal Research. The series showcases cutting edge research from the University of Toronto Scarborough, while highlighting new discoveries from leading researchers in North America.

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