Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain and Mind
How is the mind related to the brain? How can we “locate” mental features like self and consciousness—and how do they relate to neurologic and psychiatric disorders in the brain? As Canada Research Chair in Mind, Brain Imaging, and Neuroethics, Dr. Georg Northoff is trying to answer these questions.
The nature of the link between brain and self—and between mental and neural states—is unknown. But Northoff and his research team are using brain imaging to uncover the brain activity that corresponds with (and is necessary to produce) a particular experience, and to better understand the mechanisms of mental features such as self and consciousness.
By shedding light on these mechanisms, they hope to evaluate the abnormal changes that occur in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder. Northoff and his team are also studying neural changes in psychiatric patients in the hopes of providing them with personalized and individualized therapies.
Northoff’s findings will illuminate philosophical issues, like the mind-body problem, as well as neuroethical issues, like changes in personal identity in psychiatric disorders and therapy. They will also help provide the knowledge needed to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools for psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia, and will determine whether individualized therapy based on brain imaging can provide more effective treatments for these patients.