Towards a better understanding of mental disorder: exploring the common space between neurobiology and phenomenology

September 3, 2024 - September 5, 2024
International Center of Neuroscience and Ethics (CINET)

Palacio de la Magdalena

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • Fundacion Tatiana


Universidad de Navarra

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Mental disorder is one of the critical challenges of current medicine, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinically treated by psychologists and psychiatrists and investigated by neuroscientists and philosophers, there is no agreement on either considering it as the product of brain malfunctioning or a global affectation of the person. Which one of these points of view is more adequate? Is mental illness a brain disorder or a pathology affecting the human being as a whole? This seminar course has four main goals: 1) Describe brain alterations in schizophrenia, dementia and addiction; 2) From an embodied-cognition perspective, explain these disorders as impairments of the person and their relationship with the environment; 3) Find the shared space where both views can contribute to a better understanding of mental illness; 4) Discuss the ethical issues arising from these viewpoints. The program will be implemented as a 3-day course. It will start on Tuesday, September 3, with a general framework of the problem, including world-leading experts on the topic and a discussion on schizophrenia. We will discuss dementia on Wednesday and addiction on Thursday. In both cases, the first session will deal with the neurobiological bases of the disorder, and the second will account for the phenomenological or philosophical aspects; in the afternoon, we will discuss the shared space of both perspectives in a round table. The target studentship includes clinicians (psychiatrists, psychologists and general practitioners), graduate and undergraduate students, researchers in any stage of their careers and professionals interested in the neurobiological and philosophical aspects of mental illness, including those in biomedicine, psychology, humanities and social sciences.   Program Tuesday, September 3: 9:30: Presentation of the course by academic authorities 10:00: Opening Lecture: “Why does mental illness exist? Reflections on human vulnerability” (Thomas Fuchs, University of Heidelberg) 11:15: Round Table: The need for a shared space to understand mental illness Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois in Chicago) Scott Kelso (Florida Atlantic University / University of Ulster) Georg Northoff (University of Ottawa) 14:30: Neurobiological bases of schizophrenia (Guillermo Horga, Columbia University) 16:15: Phenomenology of schizophrenia (Shaun Gallagher, University of Memphis)   Wednesday, September 4: 10:00: Neurobiological bases of dementia (Jorge Sepulcre, Yale University) 12:00: Phenomenology of dementia (Christian Tewes, Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences) 15:30: Round table: Dialogues on dementia (Sepulcre, Tewes; Moderator: Miguel Á. Garcia-Cabezas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)   Thursday, September 5: 10:00: Neurobiological bases of addiction (Ana Estevez, Deusto University) 12:00: Phenomenology of addiction (Julian Kiverstein, University of Amsterdam) 15:30: Round table: Dialogues on addiction (Estevez, Kiverstein, introduced by M. Á. Sánchez González, Servicio Murciano de Salud; Moderator: Javier Bernacer)  

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June 1, 2024, 9:00am CET

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