Consciousness and the Dying Brain

George Mashour – University of Michigan

Abstract: Mashour's lecture reflects his longstanding interest in consciousness and more recent collaboration with Dr. Jimo Borjigin (University of Michigan) studying the neural correlates of consciousness after cardiac arrest. The lecture will address the basic neurobiology of consciousness, describe the phenomenology of the near-death experience, and report the results of a recent study on the neurophysiological events in the dying brain that may provide a scientific basis for consciousness during the process of death.

Biography: George A. Mashour received his M.D. and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Georgetown University and was awarded Fulbright Scholarships for neuroscience research at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin and the University of Bonn. He completed his residency training in anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and fellowship training in neurosurgical anesthesiology at the University of Michigan. He is currently the Bert N. LaDu Professor of Anesthesiology as well as Associate Chair for Research & Faculty Affairs in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, with secondary faculty appointments in neurosurgery and neuroscience. Mashour's primary scholarly interest is in consciousness and anesthesia. In his clinical research he studies intraoperative awareness and has conducted several large randomized controlled trials on brain monitoring. In his laboratory he investigates the mechanisms of unconsciousness during general anesthesia and sleep in animal models. Finally, his theoretical research group explores network science approaches to assessing consciousness and unconsciousness. In addition to >100 publications, Mashour has edited four textbooks related to anesthesiology and the neurosciences, including Consciousness, Awareness, and Anesthesia (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Neuroscientific Foundations of Anesthesiology (Oxford University Press, 2011, with R. Lydic).