Measuring Borderline States of Consciousness

Sponsored by the NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness and the NYU Center for Bioethics.

There are famous difficulties in measuring subjective states of consciousness.  Nevertheless, a number of techniques have recently been developed for measuring states of consciousness in clinical settings. These techniques have been applied to borderlines states of consciousness: in particular, those found in brain-damaged patients diagnosed with vegetative state, and those found in patients under anesthesia.  Measures using fMRI imaging, electroencephelography, and various other technologies have been developed.

These measures pose any number of scientific and philosophical questions. 
  • What is the best measure of consciousness in these cases?
  • How can we justify these measures, given the private and subjective nature of consciousness?
  • What is the best way to use these measures clinically?  
  • What ethical issues do they raise?  
  • What might these measures tell us about the nature of consciousness?

All of these questions and more will be discussed at the workshop. Speakers will include:
Tim Bayne (The University of Manchester), Heather Berlin (Mount Sinai Hospital), Melanie Boly (University of Wisconsin), Joseph Fins (Weill Cornell Medical College), L. Syd Johnson (Michigan Technological University), Steven Laureys (Belgian National Fund of Scientific Research), Marcello Massimini (University of Milan), Lionel Naccache (Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière), Adrian Owen (Western University), Alexander Proeket (Weill Cornell Medical College), Harry Scheinin, (University of Turku), Nicholas Schiff (Weill Cornell Medical College).

Organizing Committee: Ned Block, David Chalmers, S. Matthew Liao & Nicholas Schiff.

Location:53 Washington Square South, 1st Floor Auditorium New York, NY 10012
Friday, October 24th-Saturday, October 25th from 10:00am - 6:00 pm*
*Conference registration will begin at 9:00 am in the 1st floor lobby.

Download the full conference program here.

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Conference Videos

Steven Laureys 'Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Lessons from Coma and and Related States'

Nicholas Schiff
'Measurements of Consciousness in the Severely-Injured Brain'


Melanie Boly
'Consciousness: From Practice to Theory--and Back'

Marcello Massimini 'Assessing Consciousness Independent of Sensory Processing and Motor Behavior'

Lionel Naccahe 'Exploring Consciousness in Non-Communicating Patients'


Joseph Fins 'Rights Come to Mind: Disorders of Consciousness and a New Civil Right Agenda'

L. Syd Johnson 'Disorders of Consciousness and the Ethics of Uncertainty'


Alexander Proekt 'Loss and Recovery of Consciousness: Lessons from Anesthesia'

Harry Scheinin 'Anesthesia and Brain Imaging in the Study of Human Consciousness'


Adrian Owen 'Consciousness, Executive Function and the Master of Suspense'

Tim Bayne 'Detecting Consciousness: The Natural Kind Method'