Research topics

Mind and Matter research is centered around three main research topics: intelligence, information, and consciousness.
Biological and artificial intelligence

Developments in AI and neuroscience (including artificial neural networks) enable powerful technologies which will have major implications for societies, legislation, economic systems, labour and education in the 21st century.

Mind and Matter addresses societal issues that are central in this context and examines what may happen to moral and legal responsibility, when machines which can at least mimic intelligence and creativity take a key role in various operations. Mind and Matter also studies how access to AI from childhood affects the development of human cognition, and how the changes in our society and the use of machine cognition in everyday life are reflected in the neural, cognitive and social development of children and young people.

To accomplish this, Mind and Matter uses both the quantitative methods of neuroscience and behavioural studies and the qualitative methods of phenomenological introspection. Mind and Matter also works toward understanding the way humans and AI interact, using computational and mathematical modelling, based on the experimental study of natural human behaviour.

Nature of consciousness

Understanding consciousness is widely thought to be one of the greatest remaining challenges for science and philosophy.

Mind and Matter focuses on the key questions of this rapidly developing field – What are the experiential features of consciousness? Why has consciousness evolved (i.e., what is its function)? How can objective neurophysiological processes give rise to a subjective experience of consciousness – how can the “explanatory gap” be crossed between the physical and mental levels of description?

Mind and Matter examines consciousness-related neurocognitive functions (e.g., perception, sensory memory, working memory, attention and cognitive control) in healthy individuals and clinical populations by applying the most state-of-the-art brain-imaging methods. In addition, Mind and Matter investigates to what extent consciousness provides the organism with more flexible control, better social coordination, more integrated representation, more global informational access, increased freedom of will and intrinsic motivation. 

Understanding information

Information can be seen as an objective commodity which actively instructs or guides physical processes: information in our mental states (e.g. reading a map) guides human action; programmed information guides the activities of a computer, while information in the DNA molecule guides protein construction. Information in the quantum field of an elementary particle purportedly guides the movement of the particle.

Mind and Matter investigates whether such objective and active information might be the bridge through which the mental and physical aspects of reality are related. This is achived by studying the physical applications of quantum foundations, and by applying the concepts and formal tools of quantum theory to model cognition and social phenomena. Mind and Matter explores how studies of the Hawking information paradox of black holes, quantum gravity and quantum field theory are connected with quantum information theory and quantum computing.

The focus is on the growing quantum interface between different subfields of physics, mathematics and computing, quantum artificial intelligence and quantum complexity. Furthermore, quantum theory may have a significant connection to cognition and social phenomena. Mind and Matter considers whether certain principles of quantum theory (e.g., entanglement, non-Boolean logic) can provide ways for modelling cognitive phenomena such as decision processes, meaning in natural languages, probability judgments, and memory.