The 2017 Trottier Public Science Symposium

"Mind Matters: The Body-Mind Connection"

Mini-Poster for the 2017 Trottier Public Science Symposium. "Mind Matters: The Body-Mind Connection"

The telephone rings in the middle of the night. You know it probably is not someone calling to tell you that you have won the lottery. Your heart starts to race and you begin to sweat despite there being no physical intervention of any kind. Place a six-inch wide, long plank on the floor and you can easily walk along it, but put the same plank in between two ten story buildings and it becomes quite a different task. Chances are that you would start to imagine you might fall, and that would likely cause quite a degree of unsteadiness. 

People gather in a park early in the morning and with the help of “laughter trainers” begin to laugh spontaneously. After the session, they feel energized and have a more productive day. Children visited by clowns in hospitals heal faster. Cancer patients who enroll in support groups tend to be less depressed, experience less pain, and develop a more positive outlook. A bicycle racer exhibits a significant improvement in performance after being given an injection of water that he thinks is an injection of the oxygen booster, erythropoietin. An asthma patient feels better after using an inhaler that has no active ingredient and an arthritis sufferer’s pain is reduced with a “novel pain pill” that actually contains nothing but sugar. A lady with a terrible case of irritable bowel syndrome gets total relief when she is given a “placebo” pill, even though she is actually told it contains no medication. A patient with knee pain gets relief from a placebo operation that involves just a surface incision with no actual surgery being carried out. A foursome of golfers gets sprayed with what they believe to be a pesticide and develop various symptoms. The spray was just water.

What is the link between all these cases? They all demonstrate how the mind has a significant effect on the body. John Milton, the great English poet, encapsulated it best – “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.” After four hundred years, Milton’s observation still holds true. In fact, it is even backed by science. “MIND MATTERS: the body-mind connection”, is the topic of the 2017 Trottier Public Science Symposium, and will feature three presentations that delve further into this body-mind relationship.

The symposium will be live-streamed.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Symposium at 7:00pm, Centre Mont Royal, 1000 Sherbrooke Street West (corner Mansfield)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Roundtable discussion at 1:30pm, McGill Faculty Club (3450 McTavish St.), Billiard Room, 3rd floor

Symposium at 7:00pm, Centre Mont Royal, 1000 Sherbrooke Street West (corner Mansfield)

Moderated by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director, McGill Office for Science and Society

FREE admission; no reservations required; general seating.

For additional information: 514-398-2852 or trottiersymposium.science [at] mcgill.ca (email).


About the Trottier Public Science Symposium: One of McGill University’s premier annual events, the Symposium features talks by renowned experts on topics of current public interest and attracts a large audience as well as extensive media attention. Past Symposia have focused on topics such as science and the media, alternative medicine, pseudoscience, food and nutrition, genetic modification, and vaccines.