The mohawk of consciouness edit

Documentaries explore cutting edge science research at the University

Two fascinating short documentaries looking at cutting-edge research being carried out at the University were screened on KMTV during December. The two films form the first in a new series known as ‘Kent Discovers’.

The first film was broadcast on Saturday 29 December . Titled Brain Injury – The Mohawk of Consciousness it looks at the work of computational neuroscientist Dr Srivas Chennu from the University’s School of Computing. He uses advanced electroencephalogram technology (EEG) to examine the brain patterns of vegetative state patients who are otherwise unable to respond and appear unaware of their surroundings.

Dr Chennu’s research has revealed remarkable levels of activity in patients that are often indistinguishable from healthy individuals. Today it is estimated that up to 40% of patients in a vegetative state have some hidden level of consciousness but are effectively “locked in”.

The documentary explores the increasing reliance on medical technology to make life and death decisions and in doing so delves into one of the most ethically, socially and clinically complex areas faced by the modern medical community.

The second screening took place on Sunday 30 December with a film entitled IVF – The Science of Making Babies. This focuses on the research of world leading IVF scientists Professor Darren Griffin from Kent’s School of Biosciences and Professor Alan Thornhill.

The film explores the science behind IVF and the techniques and advances being developed globally. It includes interviews with a mother about to have her first pre-natal scan, and a father of two teenage sons both conceived by IVF. As the NHS cuts IVF funding the film also explores how this decision will impact on people and sectors of society that don’t have the funds for private treatments and asks if it’s time for the government to review the current regulatory framework.

Commissioned by the University of Kent, the films were produced to engage a wider audience with its research and associated impact on society.

Information for anyone affected by the issues discussed is also available on the Kent Discovers site.