As a complement to the clinical studies, the Translational Neuroimaging Group applies Neuroimaging to contribute to contemporary discussions within the general realm of philosophy of mind. Translation in this sense is understood as translation of neuroscientific findings onto philosophical grounds.
A new set of our studies involving hemispherotomy patients is focused on the functional and ontological status of the ipsilesional hemisphere in these patients.Hemispherotomy patients are the only patients harboring a structurally completely isolated living hemisphere. This hemisphere has been termed “brain island” (Tononi & Koch, 2015), but has not been further investigated. In our study, we hypothesize that a “brain island” may be sufficient for generating a limited kind of awareness, such as awareness of sound or of pain. We have acquired resting-state-fMRI-datasets from 32 hemispherotomy patients and yet successfully modelled functional networks in “brain islands” (see figure). In a second step, task-based functional MRI of olfaction equally testing the contralesional and the ipsilesional hemisphere in hemisphterotomy patients shall be established. Results of our studies directly translate to philosophy of mind and shall be interpreted within interdisciplinary teams. It is our aim to elaborate on the case of hemispherotomy patients as a constitutive (not illustrative) example for tantalizing questions of consciousness and personal identity.