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Farisco, M. (2019). Brain, consciousness and disorders of consciousness at the intersection of neuroscience and philosophy. (Doctoral dissertation). Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Brain, consciousness and disorders of consciousness at the intersection of neuroscience and philosophy
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present dissertation starts from the general claim that neuroscience is not neutral, with regard to theoretical questions like the nature of consciousness, but it needs to be complemented with dedicated conceptual analysis. Specifically, the argument for this thesis is that the combination of empirical and conceptual work is a necessary step for assessing the significant questions raised by the most recent study of the brain. Results emerging from neuroscience are conceptually very relevant in themselves but, notwithstanding its theoretical sophistication, neuroscience is not sufficient to provide a complete interpretation or an appropriate understanding of their impact. Consequently, the present thesis starts from the need for an interdisciplinary and hybrid field of research, i.e. fundamental neuroethics.

Within this framework, the thesis takes consciousness and related disorders (i.e. Vegetative State/Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome, Minimally Conscious State and Coma) and the addicted brain as illustrative cases of the potential fruitful collaboration between empirical and conceptual investigations.

The general goal of the thesis is to contribute to the overall development of bridging the gap between empirical and conceptual understandings of consciousness. The first paper sets the theoretical framework, providing an empirically-based description of the brain with significant philosophical implications for an understanding of consciousness. The last three papers of the thesis try to apply the theoretical framework to illustrative cases. Papers II and III analyse the possible application of science and technology for an easier detection and clinical care of patients with disorders of consciousness, with particular attention to communication mediated by neurotechnology and the simulation of the conscious brain, respectively; paper IV provides a potentially new ethical analysis of addiction within the elaborated general conceptual framework.

The conclusion of the thesis is that the impact of neuroscientific results needs that a dedicated conceptual approach reveals and investigates their conceptual meaning. This conceptual analysis is not exclusive but integrative and complementary to the empirical science. The case of consciousness, analysed from both an ethical and conceptual point of view, is highly illustrative in this respect. In the end, a conceptual/linguistic work of clarification is urgently needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. p. 63
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1597
Keywords
Brain; consciousness; disorders of consciousness; neuroethics; neurophilosophy
National Category
Neurology Medical Ethics Philosophy Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy; Neuroscience
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-392187 (URN)978-91-513-0749-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-10-30, Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Human Brain Project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 785907
Available from: 2019-10-07 Created: 2019-08-30 Last updated: 2019-10-15
Pennartz, C. M. A., Farisco, M. & Evers, K. (2019). Indicators and Criteria of Consciousness in Animals and Intelligent Machines: An Inside-Out Approach. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 13, Article ID 25.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Indicators and Criteria of Consciousness in Animals and Intelligent Machines: An Inside-Out Approach
2019 (English)In: Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5137, E-ISSN 1662-5137, Vol. 13, article id 25Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In today’s society, it becomes increasingly important to assess which non-human and non-verbal beings possess consciousness. This review article aims to delineate criteria for consciousness especially in animals, while also taking into account intelligent artifacts. First, we circumscribe what we mean with “consciousness” and describe key features of subjective experience: qualitative richness, situatedness, intentionality and interpretation, integration and the combination of dynamic and stabilizing properties. We argue that consciousness has a biological function, which is to present the subject with a multimodal, situational survey of the surrounding world and body, subserving complex decision-making and goal-directed behavior. This survey reflects the brain’s capacity for internal modeling of external events underlying changes in sensory state. Next, we follow an inside-out approach: how can the features of conscious experience, correlating to mechanisms inside the brain, be logically coupled to externally observable (“outside”) properties? Instead of proposing criteria that would each define a “hard” threshold for consciousness, we outline six indicators: (i) goal-directed behavior and model-based learning; (ii) anatomic and physiological substrates for generating integrative multimodal representations; (iii) psychometrics and meta-cognition; (iv) episodic memory; (v) susceptibility to illusions and multistable perception; and (vi) specific visuospatial behaviors. Rather than emphasizing a particular indicator as being decisive, we propose that the consistency amongst these indicators can serve to assess consciousness in particular species. The integration of scores on the various indicators yields an overall, graded criterion for consciousness, somewhat comparable to the Glasgow Coma Scale for unresponsive patients. When considering theoretically derived measures of consciousness, it is argued that their validity should not be assessed on the basis of a single quantifiable measure, but requires cross-examination across multiple pieces of evidence, including the indicators proposed here. Current intelligent machines, including deep learning neural networks (DLNNs) and agile robots, are not indicated to be conscious yet. Instead of assessing machine consciousness by a brief Turing-type of test, evidence for it may gradually accumulate when we study machines ethologically and across time, considering multiple behaviors that require flexibility, improvisation, spontaneous problem-solving and the situational conspectus typically associated with conscious experience.

Keywords
awareness, bird, episodic memory, goal-directed behavior, illusion, robot, rodent, visuospatial behavior
National Category
Neurosciences Ethics Robotics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-389486 (URN)10.3389/fnsys.2019.00025 (DOI)000477743000001 ()31379521 (PubMedID)
Projects
Human Brain Project SGA2
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 785907
Available from: 2019-07-16 Created: 2019-07-16 Last updated: 2019-09-20Bibliographically approved
Salles, A., Evers, K. & Farisco, M. (2019). Neuroethics and Philosophy in Responsible Research and Innovation: The Case of the Human Brain Project. Neuroethics, 12(2), 201-211
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neuroethics and Philosophy in Responsible Research and Innovation: The Case of the Human Brain Project
2019 (English)In: Neuroethics, ISSN 1874-5490, E-ISSN 1874-5504, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 201-211Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an important ethical, legal, and political theme for the European Commission. Although variously defined, it is generally understood as an interactive process that engages social actors, researchers, and innovators who must be mutually responsive and work towards the ethical permissibility of the relevant research and its products. The framework of RRI calls for contextually addressing not just research and innovation impact but also the background research process, specially the societal visions underlying it and the norms and priorities that shape scientific agendas. This requires the integration of anticipatory, inclusive, and responsive dimensions, and the nurturing of a certain type of reflexivity among a variety of stakeholders, from scientists to funders. In this paper, we do not address potential limitations but focus on the potential contribution of philosophical reflection to RRI in the context of the Ethics and Society subproject of the Human Brain Project (HBP). We show how the type of conceptual analysis provided by philosophically oriented approaches theoretically and ethically broadens research and innovation within the HBP. We further suggest that overt inclusion of philosophical reflection can promote the aims and objectives of RRI.

Keywords
RRI, Human Identity, Consciousness, Poverty, Brain, Neuroethics, Reflexivity, Conceptual analysis
National Category
Ethics Philosophy Medical Ethics
Research subject
Bioethics; Neuroscience
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-354023 (URN)10.1007/s12152-018-9372-9 (DOI)000478000000006 ()
Projects
Human Brain Project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 720270 (HBP SGA1)EU, Horizon 2020, 785907 (HBP SGA2)
Available from: 2018-06-18 Created: 2018-06-18 Last updated: 2019-09-26Bibliographically approved
Larrivee, D. & Farisco, M. (2019). Realigning the Neural Paradigm for Death. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 16(2), 259-277
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Realigning the Neural Paradigm for Death
2019 (English)In: Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, ISSN 1176-7529, E-ISSN 1872-4353, Vol. 16, no 2, p. 259-277Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Whole brain failure constitutes the diagnostic criterion for death determination in most clinical settings across the globe. Yet the conceptual foundation for its adoption was slow to emerge, has evoked extensive scientific debate since inception, underwent policy revision, and remains contentious in praxis even today. Complications result from the need to relate a unitary construal of the death event with an adequate account of organismal integration and that of the human organism in particular. Advances in the neuroscience of higher human faculties, such as the self, personal identity, and consciousness, and dynamical philosophy of science accounts, however, are yielding a portrait of higher order global integration shared between body and brain. Such conceptual models of integration challenge a praxis relying exclusively on a neurological criterion for death.

Keywords
Somatic Integrity Thesis, Brain Death, Neurological Criterion for Death, End of Life, Human Identity, Biological Autonomy
National Category
Medical Ethics Neurology Philosophy
Research subject
Bioethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-384487 (URN)10.1007/s11673-019-09915-3 (DOI)000473237300017 ()31161308 (PubMedID)
Projects
Human Brain Project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 785907
Available from: 2019-06-05 Created: 2019-06-05 Last updated: 2019-11-29Bibliographically approved
Salles, A., Bjaalie, J., Evers, K., Farisco, M., Fothergill, T., Guerrero, M., . . . Amunts, K. (2019). The Human Brain Project: Responsible Brain Research for the Benefit of Society. Neuron, 101(3), 380-384
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Human Brain Project: Responsible Brain Research for the Benefit of Society
Show others...
2019 (English)In: Neuron, ISSN 0896-6273, E-ISSN 1097-4199, Vol. 101, no 3, p. 380-384Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Keywords
neuroethics, brain research, consciousness, dual use
National Category
Neurosciences
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-376703 (URN)DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2019.01.005 (DOI)000457856700010 ()30731062 (PubMedID)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 785907
Available from: 2019-02-08 Created: 2019-02-08 Last updated: 2019-02-28Bibliographically approved
Salles, A., Evers, K. & Farisco, M. (2019). The Need for a Conceptual Expansion of Neuroethics [Letter to the editor]. AJOB Neuroscience, 10(3), 126-128
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Need for a Conceptual Expansion of Neuroethics
2019 (English)In: AJOB Neuroscience, ISSN 2150-7740, E-ISSN 2150-7759, Vol. 10, no 3, p. 126-128Article in journal, Letter (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In “Neuroethics at 15: The Current and Future Environment for Neuroethics” the Emerging Issues Task Force of the INS provides an overview of the current and future topics for neuroethics and the foreseeable challenges that the field will face. The authors note that these challenges, emerging both at individual, societal, and often global levels, are importantly connected to increasing knowledge of the brain and neurotechnical capabilities, to increasing awareness of value diversity and of the need to attend to a global landscape, and to novel applications (commercial, military, governmental) of neuroscientific findings. The overarching theme, the authors note, is expansion. In this commentary we focus on the fourth needed expansion: an expansion in how neuroethics and its methodologies are conceived and how neuroethical issues should be approached. Accordingly, we explore the key role that  conceptual analysis plays in normative discussions, in refining our empirical knowledge, and in fostering a clearer and more reliable vision on how to respond the many philosophical issues raised by neuroscientific knowledge and neurotechnologies

National Category
Ethics Neurosciences
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-389755 (URN)10.1080/21507740.2019.1632972 (DOI)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, SGA785907
Available from: 2019-07-23 Created: 2019-07-23 Last updated: 2019-08-16Bibliographically approved
Farisco, M., Evers, K. & Changeux, J.-P. (2018). Drug addiction: from neuroscience to ethics. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, Article ID 595.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Drug addiction: from neuroscience to ethics
2018 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychiatry, ISSN 1664-0640, E-ISSN 1664-0640, Vol. 9, article id 595Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the present paper we suggest a potential new ethical analysis of addiction focusing on the relationship between aware and unaware processings in the brain, i.e. on what is consciously and what is non-consciously perceived by the individual. We take the case of the opioids epidemics to argue that a consideration of both aware and unaware processings provides a more comprehensive ethical framework to discuss the ethical issues raised by addiction.Finally, our hypothesis is that in addition to identified Central Nervous System’s neuronal/neurochemical factors contributing to addictive dynamics, the socio-economic status, i.e. the individual background, plays a causal role through epigenetic processes, originating the need for additional reward in the brain. This provides a strong base for a socio-political form of responsibility for preventing and managing addiction crisis.

Keywords
Addiction, Ethics of addiction, Unaware processing, Opioids Epidemics, Drugs addiction
National Category
Psychiatry Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-364429 (URN)10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00595 (DOI)000450456300001 ()30524319 (PubMedID)
Projects
Human Brain Project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 785907
Available from: 2018-10-26 Created: 2018-10-26 Last updated: 2019-08-30Bibliographically approved
Farisco, M., Hellgren Kotaleski, J. & Evers, K. (2018). Large-scale brain simulation and disorders of consciousness: Mapping technical and conceptual issues. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article ID 585.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Large-scale brain simulation and disorders of consciousness: Mapping technical and conceptual issues
2018 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 9, article id 585Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Modelling and simulations have gained a leading position in contemporary attempts to describe, explain, and quantitatively predict the human brain's operations. Computer models are highly sophisticated tools developed to achieve an integrated knowledge of the brain with the aim of overcoming the actual fragmentation resulting from different neuroscientific approaches. In this paper we investigate plausibility of simulation technologies for emulation of consciousness and the potential clinical impact of large-scale brain simulation on the assessment and care of disorders of consciousness (DOCs), e.g. Coma, Vegetative State/Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome, Minimally Conscious State.Notwithstanding their technical limitations, we suggest that simulation technologies may offer new solutions to old practical problems, particularly in clinical contexts. We take DOCs as an illustrative case, arguing that the simulation of neural correlates of consciousness is potentially useful for improving treatments of patients with DOCs.

Keywords
Consciousness, Consciousness Disorders, brain modeling, Neuroethics, brain simulation
National Category
Computer Systems Ethics Philosophy Neurology Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Research subject
Neuroscience; Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-347782 (URN)10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00585 (DOI)000430833800001 ()29740372 (PubMedID)
Projects
The human brain project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 720270
Available from: 2018-04-06 Created: 2018-04-06 Last updated: 2019-08-30Bibliographically approved
Farisco, M., Salles, A. & Evers, K. (2018). Neuroethics: A Conceptual Approach. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 27(4), 717-727
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neuroethics: A Conceptual Approach
2018 (English)In: Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, ISSN 0963-1801, E-ISSN 1469-2147, Vol. 27, no 4, p. 717-727Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we begin by identifying three main neuroethical approaches: neurobioethics, empirical neuroethics, and conceptual neuroethics. Our focus is on conceptual approaches that generally emphasize the need to develop and use a methodological modus operandi for effectively linking scientific (i.e., neuroscience) and philosophical (i.e., ethics) interpretations. We explain and assess the value of conceptual neuroethics approaches and explain and defend one such approach that we propose as being particularly fruitful for addressing the various issues raised by neuroscience: fundamental neuroethics.

Keywords
neuroethics, ethics, philosophy, neuroscience
National Category
Ethics Philosophy Neurology
Research subject
Ethics; Bioethics; Neuroscience; Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-360367 (URN)10.1017/S0963180118000208 (DOI)000457483600018 ()30198472 (PubMedID)
Projects
The human brain project
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 720270
Available from: 2018-09-12 Created: 2018-09-12 Last updated: 2019-03-18Bibliographically approved
Farisco, M. (2018). Ritorno alla Physis. Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, 20(3), 487-496
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ritorno alla Physis
2018 (Italian)In: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, ISSN 1825-5167, E-ISSN 1825-5167, Vol. 20, no 3, p. 487-496Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While I am quite in agreement with the critics to transhumanism elaborated by Allegra in the book Visioni transumane. Tecnica, salvezza, ideologia, the alternative to transhumanist perspective that he argues for in this book is not completely clear to me, unless it is just the revival of a metaphysical-anthropological framework grounded on a "strong" idea of human nature. Against such perspective I argue for the necessity to keep the difference between posthumanism and transhumanism and to go back to the original meaning of physis.

Keywords
Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Philosophical Anthropology, human nature, physis, technology
National Category
Philosophy Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-385142 (URN)10.13137/1825-5167/22614 (DOI)000486972800024 ()
Available from: 2019-06-11 Created: 2019-06-11 Last updated: 2019-10-25Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-3298-7829

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