Research


We are interested in the neural bases of human consciousness and cognition. Most of our current knowledge on these topics stems from carefully controlled laboratory experiments conducted in WEIRD ("western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic") volunteers, the vast majority during ordinary wakefulness. These experiments are useful to unveil neural mechanisms that support cognitive function during very special conditions, but their results are of difficult extrapolation to the real world where humans live and interact. Equally difficult is to understand the nuances in the subjective experience and cognitive function of healthy individuals, or those who experiment non-ordinary states of consciousness as a consequence of neuropsychiatric diseases or pharmacological stimulation.

Our research program is concerned with overcoming these limitations by adopting non-traditional approaches beyond the classical setting of laboratory experiments, with the objective of gaining an ampler knowledge on the relationship between the human mind, and the cultures and societies emerging from it.

Some of our projects and research methods are the following:

  • We process and analyze large volumes of Internet data containing behavioral information and subjective reports of different experiences. Applying natural language process (NLP) methods we quantify different states of consciousness using information obtained in natural settings and by unconstrained reports
  • We take the lab to the field, using state of the art mobile EEG technology (MBT 24 channel Smarting and 8 channel Neuroelectrics EEGs) to investigate altered states of consciousness in natural settings. Recently we have published the first study of the neural and psycholgical correlates of DMT consumption in urban and ceremonial settings
  • We conduct electrophysiological experiments of cognition and behavior (hd-EEG, brain stimulation, eye tracking, virtual reality) in comfortable settings while subjects perform natural tasks.
  • Our lab contains facilities for whole-night sleep recordings with MRI-compatible state-of-the-art polysomnography (BrainProducts 32 channel BrainAmp system) as well as several less invasive options for home monitoring (wristbands and portable PSG systems)
  • We integrate different levels of analysis by means of computer simulations, modeling with continuous and discrete dynamical systems and applying concepts and methods from the physics of complex systems
  • Our lab is equipped with several high-performance GPUs (Titan V and dual RTX 3090) for the purpuse of deep learning, in particular, for the construction of deep networks as models of cognitive processing in humans
For our work on the neuroscience, psychology and clinical uses of psychedelic drugs visit our sister laboratory PHALARIS