2012 Tom Slick Research Awards in Consciousness

December 1, 2012

The winners of the 2012 Tom Slick Research Awards in Consciousness, celebrating innovative research focused on the mind, brain and human consciousness, were recently announced by the MSF. This year's researchers were from Indiana University and Universite de Liege, Belgium, covering topics on: An investigation of the hypothesis that consciousness is an emergent property produced when neurons collectively interact in special ways and How can we communicate with severely brain-injured patients?

Neuronal avalanches and the microstructure of consciousness
John Beggs, Ph.D.
Indiana University

An investigation of the hypothesis that consciousness is an emergent property produced when neurons collectively interact in special ways. We understand many biological details of the brain, but relatively little about its most intriguing feature: it produces a conscious, self-aware mind. How does consciousness arise? A reasonable hypothesis shared by many is that consciousness is an emergent property produced when neurons collectively interact in special ways. This project will investigate emergent properties linked to consciousness in local cortical networks, and expect that such investigations will, for the first time, begin to reveal important aspects of the microstructure of consciousness.

Improving communication in disorders of consciousness
Steven Laureys, M.D., Ph.D.
Quentin Noirhomme, Ph.D.
Andrea Soddu, Ph.D.
Universite de Liege, Belgium
(Second-year funding)

How can we communicate with severely brain-injured patients? Continued funding on a project using EEG techniques to assess the presence of minimally conscious states in severely brain injured patients. The work was reported in the journal Lancet, and cited in a popular press account in the New York Times on November 10, 2011.

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