Understanding consciousness is my core research interest. This implicates phenomenology – the philosophical effort to characterize the essential structures of experience – and cognitive neuroscience – the empirical quest to understand the function of the brain and nervous system. Phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience are very different in their methods, presuppositions, and principal findings, so the effort to establish a scientific neurophenomenology draws broadly from many disciplines, and inevitably takes some unconventional turns.
Some areas of ongoing work include:
- Time and temporality: The subjective experience of duration and change is fundamental to human consciousness, but little is known about how the brain supports continuous time awareness.
- Consciousness and narrative: Stories are distinctly temporal structures, and their universality among human cultures suggests a close link to basic brain function.
- Consciousness and music: Music is another universal temporal structure, whose operations may offer clues to the neural foundations of experience.
Both narratology and musicology deploy formal tools and templates to their domains of study. Much of my recent work reapplies those templates to the data of neuroscience.
- In addition to neurophenomenology, cognitive neuroscience itself is an area of research interest. My work includes critiques of some of the main methods in the field, especially with respect to the devastating illness of schizophrenia.