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OHSU announces 2017 Brain Awareness lecture series

Presentations by nationally recognized experts explore the brain science behind moral choices, the effects of physical touch, vivid dreams



OHSU Brain Awareness lecture series


7 p.m. Monday, March 20; Monday, March 27; and Tuesday, April 4


Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland


This season’s lectures will explore what happens with the brain when we’re not fully conscious, including moral choices, the effects of physical touch and vivid dreams. 

Hosted by the OHSU Brain Institute, the Brain Awareness series began in 2000. 


The Criminal Brain (March 20)

Why do some people live lawful lives, while others gravitate toward repeated criminality? Do people choose to be moral or immoral, or is morality simply a genetically inherited function of the brain, like mathematical ability? Research suggests certain regions of the brain influence moral reasoning. Octavio Choi, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Forensic Evaluation Service at the Oregon State Hospital, will explore how emerging neuroscience challenges long-held assumptions underlying the basis – and punishment – of criminal behavior.

Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind (March 27)

Dual-function receptors in our skin make mint cool and chili peppers hot. Without the brain’s dedicated centers for pleasure and emotional touch, an orgasm would feel more like a sneeze – convulsive, but not especially nice. David Linden, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of The Compass of Pleasure, delves into how the organization of our body’s touch circuits is a complex and often counterintuitive system that affects everything from social interactions to general health and development.

Sleep, Memory and Dreams: Putting it all together (April 4)

It’s no secret that without a good night’s sleep we feel mentally sluggish. But what does our brain do while we sleep? Is there a scientific reason we dream? Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Law School, will explore why dreaming and sleep are key to retaining, strengthening and processing new memories and skills.


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