Research Seminar: Consciousness and Personhood Technologies: Interfacing Biomedical Engineering with Minimally Communicative Persons – Stefanie Blain-Moraes

SBME Symposium 2024

Join us and our outstanding community of faculty, trainees, industry and hospital partners, and students as we continue to define the future of health and healthcare at our annual Symposium. • Learn from peers making an impact in the biomedical engineering field. • Discover the latest research.

SBME Symposium 2024


Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Research Seminar: Consciousness and Personhood Technologies: Interfacing Biomedical Engineering with Minimally Communicative Persons – Stefanie Blain-Moraes

October 19, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm PDT

Dr. Stefanie Blain-Moraes headshot
Talk Abstract:
Over the past 30 years, improvements in medical life-saving and life-sustaining technologies have created “a new strain of human beings” with minimal to no ability to interact with others. Ranging from individuals in disorders of consciousness in critical care, to children born with severe multiple disabilities, to elders with advanced dementia, these behaviourally unresponsive individuals linger in the isolation of their own bodies and minds. Caring for such individuals requires expertise from all academic sectors, and the integration of deep creativity and innovation in practice. Yet even under the best circumstances, caregivers from all backgrounds report uncertainty and ambiguity when interacting with minimally communicative individuals. The crux of this uncertainty hinges upon two central questions. First, are these unresponsive individuals conscious? In other words – are they aware of their environment, and able to perceive the interaction of other people? The answer to this question is foundational to relationships and care decisions, yet is currently often ambiguous for healthcare professionals and family members alike. Second, how might we accord these unresponsive individuals personhood? In other words – how can we develop relationships with these humans as social beings? In this talk, I will present novel technologies for the detection of consciousness and augmentation of personhood in unresponsive individuals. These technologies rely on meaningful changes in physiology (e.g., electroencephalogram and autonomic nervous system signals) to bypass limitations in behavioral output across all minimally communicative conditions. I will describe the research studies that validate these technologies and our translational efforts to bring them into the clinic and into quotidian use in the lives of affected persons and their caregivers.
Dr. Blain-Moraes Biography
Stefanie Blain-Moraes is the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Consciousness and Personhood Technology (2019-2024). She leads the Biosignal Interaction and Personhood Technology (BIAPT) lab at McGill University. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of her research program, she has been a Principal Investigator on grants awarded from all three branches of the Canadian Tri-Council (NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC). She has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers on the detection of consciousness and the development of technologies to maximize the personhood of non-communicative individuals. Her inventions are protected under one US Patent, and several Notices of Invention. Dr. Blain-Moraes’ research was recognized with McGill University’s Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers in 2022, and has been featured in National Geographic, STAT news, the New Scientist and CTV National News.
Life Sciences Institute
Lecture Theatre 1003 (LSC 1003)


October 19, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm PDT
Event Categories:


View Organizer Website


UBC Life Sciences Intitute
2350 Health Sciences Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Canada
+ Google Map
View Venue Website