Radboud Healthy Brain
Radboud Healthy Brain

University puts its brain research in the spotlight

At the end of this month, the university will be shining the spotlight on its brain research with the Healthy Brain symposium ‘The Future of the Mind’. This research is now so wide-ranging that professor Roshan Cools thinks the time has come to inspire the public and policymakers with some of the new insights gleaned from it. The blessings - and curses - of digital technology for a healthy brain will feature high on the agenda.

In just a few decades brain research has become an integral part of the Nijmegen campus, with a thousand or so researchers spread across almost every one of the seven faculties. Besides fundamental research, considerable attention is also paid to the social impact. This month’s symposium stems from the ambition of contributing to the university’s profile by highlighting the importance of its brain research for policymakers and the public.

According to Cools, the initiator of the symposium, within society we are facing all kinds of questions linked to developments in research into the brain and natural intelligence. She refers to Elon Musk’s neurotech ambitions involving brain implants, or the question of liability and artificial intelligence: who should be held responsible in the event of an accident with a self-driving vehicle? ‘These questions call for a broad perspective on the part of scientists’, says Cools. ‘A dialogue between the different disciplines is essential, but so too, in particular, is our dialogue with politicians and the public.’

A healthy mind for a healthy society

The symposium will raise all kinds of questions, relating, for example, to the impact of social media in terms of undermining democracy, the promises and risks of smartphones in relation to our mental health, and the relationship between brain-inspired technology, safety and the law. It will also cover the university’s extensive language research, for example in a debate on the impact of language technologies, such as ChatGPT, on society.

The ‘healthy’ in ‘healthy brain’ therefore needs to be understood in a broad sense, according to Cools. ‘It’s all centred around the brain in relation to a healthy society. Ethical boundaries will also be expressly explored, for example when it comes to regulating technological developments. This is a delicate issue’, explains Cools. ‘If there’s too much regulation, you hamper the progress of research, but if there’s too little, you run the risk of social disruption.’

Full programme symposium

In the evening Radboud Reflects will be organising a lecture and debate on this topic, the principal guest at which will be Emily Murphy, professor at University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (also opening speaker at the symposium). 

Lecture Radboud Reflects

Contact information

Organizational unit
Healthy Brain