McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Symposium on consciousness will discuss "everything from murder to Jennifer Aniston"

By Tina Depko, Health Sciences
Published: October 9, 2019
Martha Fulford is fostering sustainable medical care in Namibia as a guest instructor at the country's first medical school.

A symposium on the subject of consciousness is bringing together experts from across the campus and beyond on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

The event, called Exploring Consciousness, will run that day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 1A1 of the Health Sciences Centre. Admission is free and registration is not required.

"Consciousness and the brain are such exciting topics and there have been so many advances that it is important to have an opportunity to discuss what's happening," said Alan McComas, professor emeritus in the Department of Medicine and lead organizer of the symposium.

The target audience is McMaster students, staff, faculty members and alumni.

Many speakers are from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science.

The speakers include Sue Becker (psychology), John Connolly (linguistics and languages), Alan McComas (neurology), Bruce Milliken (psychology), Erwin Montgomery (neurology), Michel Rathbone (neurology) and David Rosenbloom (neurology). The moderator is Flavio Kapczinski (psychiatry).

The guest speaker is Michael Mozer from the University of Colorado. He is a professor of computer science and member of the Institute of Cognitive Science, where his research is on human optimization and cognitively informed machine learning.

Among the presentation titles are "Drugs, consciousness & murder", "Self-consciousness, the mind's theatre and the default mode network" and "Grandmother/Jennifer Aniston neurons".

"We're talking about everything from murder to Jennifer Aniston, who wouldn't be interested?" McComas said.

The event is a companion to the other events this month for the 50th anniversary of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

McComas has been a witness to practically all of it. He was an award-winning physician when he was recruited to the medical school in 1971 as its first head of neurology. The neurophysiologist, now a member of the Faculty's Community of Distinction, was an excellent ambassador for the university as he became recognized internationally for his research on the neurophysiology of muscle disease. 

"The school certainly has become much larger, in terms of faculty and medical students," he said. "I also have a deep sense of gratitude to McMaster for enabling me to make much of my career here."

For more information about the Oct. 16 event, email Alan McComas at mccomasa@mcmaster.

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