Science Week Screening: The Key to Consciousness, A Journey Into the Stuff of Thoughts

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As part of Science Week 2017, Science Foundation Ireland and Science Gallery Dublin are pleased to present some of the leading and award-winning films from the recent European Science TV and New Media Festival, held annually in Lisbon. Five very different films are featured, from David Attenborough exploring the extraordinary ways living creatures produce and use light, to a rare insight into how the Himalayas reveal evidence of global warming. The screening day will also include a chance to hear from the filmmakers and scientists from two films, one an innovative presentation called Bodytech from Ireland, and another on the intriguing topic of consciousness and our attempts to understand it.

The Key to Consciousness will be screened followed by a panel discussion featuring the French producer/director Cecile Denjean and neuroscientists from Italy and Belgium to tell us about the science and the filming style which brings this theme to life. The panel will explore the themes raised throughout the day and will feature Diarmaid Mac Mathúna, Marcello Massimi, and Camille Chatelle. 

What is consciousness? Where do our thoughts come from? What is the connection between mind and body? At the moment no-one knows the answers. The human consciousness, that little voice crying "I”and interpreting the world for us is one of the biggest mysteries facing science today. Scientists are now considering the possibility that our mental state is formed from the activity of a complex network of hundreds of billions of connections between our environment, our body and the brain. But what are the underlying mechanisms behind our feelings, our thoughts and our view of the world? This programme pieces together the current state of play blending original visualisation with insights from leading neuroscientists.

Will we one day find an equation to explain our consciousness? What happens in our brain during the emergence and disappearance of consciousness? Our thoughts and our emotions come not from an ethereal spirit but from the body, and from one organ in particular, the brain. The thinking is that our every desire is written in the traces of the neurons, in as yet undecipherable code.

Diarmaid Mac Mathúna (chair) 
Diarmaid is a physics graduate who is passionate about science, creative video, and the Irish language. Diarmaid is currently Head of Client Services at Agtel.

Cecile Denjean 
Programme Producer/Director of The Key to Consciousness, and Chief Executive of a leading French production company specialising in science, called Scientifilms. She works closely with the Franco-German TV channel ARTE.

Camille Chatelle
Neuroscientist Camille Chatelle studied neuropsychology at the University of Brussels in Belgium.
She did a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the Coma Science Group (FNRS fellow, University of Liege, Belgium), where she is still based.

Marcello Massimi
Neuroscientist Marcello Massimini’s research is devoted to understanding changes in thalamocortical networks when consciousness fades and recovers, such as when we sleep and reawaken. He is based at the University of Milan and does his experimental work at the local hospital.

Andrew Millington
Following a PhD in Physics at Cambridge, Andrew became a science journalist before joining the BBC as a science producer. He now runs the annual European Science TV and New Media Festival.

​This event is brought to you by Science Gallery Dublin, Science Foundation Ireland and European Science TV and New Media Festival.

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Paccar Theatre
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