Budapest Symposium

Symposium on 'Consciousness in Vegetative State Patients'

Dr Nicholas Shea co-organised and introduced a high-profile symposium on Consciousness in Vegetative State Patients at the annual conference of the European Society of Philosophy and Psychology, Budapest. Speakers included Dr. Adrian Owen (MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit, Cambridge), Dr. Anil Seth (Informatics, Sussex) and Dr. Tim Bayne (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford).

The research discussed at the workshop was published in a high-profile article in the New England Journal of Medicine (Monti, M.M., Vanhaudenhuyse, A., Coleman, M.R., Boly, M., Pickard, J.D., Tshibanda, L., Owen, A.M., Laureys, S. (2010), ‘Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness,’ N Engl J Med, 362: 579-589) and was linked to a lecture given by Steven Laureys, Adrian Owen and Adam Zeman in Oxford in 2008 on Consciousness in the Persistent Vegetative State: Philosophical and Methodological Issues. The article generated much media attention, for example in the BBC and the topic was blogged on by Neil Levy and Dominic Wilkinson.

Several Centre researchers have been at the forefront of discussion of the ethical, clinical, legal and philosophical significance of this groundbreaking research. Our publications in this area include

• Shea, N. and Bayne, T. (2010), ‘The Vegetative State and the Science of Consciousness’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 1-26;

• Kahane, G. and Savulescu, J. (2009), ‘Brain-Damaged Patients and the Moral Significance of Consciousness’, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 33: 1-21;

• Levy, N. & Savulescu, J. (2009), ‘The Moral Significance of Phenomenal Consciousness,’ Progress in Brain Research 117: 361-370;

• Wilkinson, D., Kahane, G., Savulescu, J. (2009), ‘Functional neuroimaging and withdrawal of life- sustaining treatment from vegetative patients’, Journal of Medical Ethics 35, 508-511;

• Skene, L., Wilkinson, D., Kahane, G. and Savulescu, J. (2009), 'Neuroimaging and the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients in vegetative state,' Medical Law Review 17, 245-261.

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