Conscious Evolution Research (CER) group - Leonard Khirug

Big data from non-invasive monitoring of brain and behavior analyzed by rapidly evolving machine-learning algorithms enable unprecedented insights into the fascinating plasticity of human brain, mind and consciousness.

When our group began studying cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in 2000s, we had to utilize classical reductionist approaches: imaging and recording from brain slices or dissociated neurons in vitro. As in vivo microscopy matured in 2010s, we adopted a more holistic approach: microscopic analysis of anesthetized mouse’ brain. Since 2013, we have been doing in vigilo imaging of brain signaling in awake mice while they perform neuroplasticity-related behavioral tasks in an air-lifted homecage, developed by our partner company Neurotar Ltd.

In line with the key translational component of our research (simultaneous longitudinal recording of behavioral responses and brain signaling), we have recently supplemented rodent research with studies of human brain activity during behavioral responses to external stimuli. Our goal is to understand how brain activity relates to conscious (mindful) and subconscious (automatic) behavior under real-life circumstances. We use multiple scientific-grade and consumer-grade devices to capture simultaneously brain activity, physiological reactions, behavioral responses and rich contextual information.

In our pilot project seed-funded through HNBM’s Grand Challenge program, we run experiments on hundreds of volunteers outside the lab to collect what we call “biographical data” (i.e., biological, behavioral and contextual). The analyzed data are then provided to the data owners in form of self-knowledge. The outcomes are: validated brain plasticity biomarkers; self-understanding for millions of individuals worldwide; and conscious evolution for the humanity.

Read more about Leo's and his group's research:


Leonard Khiroug, PhD
Principal Investigator, docent
Head of In Vivo Microscopy Unit
P.O. Box 56, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
Phone: +358-45 635 2270