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Reflections from Brains in a Dish

Philip Ball discusses his involvement in the Brains in a Dish project, explaining how UCL researchers are have grown neurons out of his skin cells.

Science writer Philip Ball discusses his involvement in Created Out of Mind’s Brains in a Dish project, explaining how researchers at UCL have taken skin cells and grown them into brain cells (neurons) to help investigate how people may develop dementia.

The project has led Phil to ask himself a number of moral, ethical and philosophical questions about the relationship between the body, brain and identity, which are particularly pertinent to the dementia experience.

You can read more about Phil’s reflections in the two additional blog posts included below in the ‘See Also’ section.

What are your thoughts on how a person’s identity is linked to their brain, and more specifically, their brain cells? Do you feel hopeful about the scientific potential that research such as the Brains in a Dish project holds for the future of understanding the causes of dementia? How would you feel about giving a small piece of your skin and having these grown into neurons in a laboratory, knowing that these no longer belong to you? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

CREDITS We would like to extend a special thank you to the following individuals and organisations for providing supplementary footage and images for this video: * Lab footage: clips from video work ‘Skin to Mind, Part 1’ (2017), Charlie Murphy/ Created Out of Mind * Images: Christopher Lovejoy/ Created Out of Mind/ UCL * Selina Wray/ UCL.
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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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