Deconstructing and Reconstructing Consciousness: an Interdisciplinary Approach to a Perennial Puzzle


[RG # 159]  Deconstructing and Reconstructing Consciousness: an Interdisciplinary Approach to a Perennial Puzzle

September 1, 2019 - January 31, 2020


Leon Y. Deouell (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem),
Daphna Shohamy (Columbia University, New York)

Consciousness is one of the most fascinating and least understood parts of human nature, and arguably, of nature at large. There is nothing we know more intimately than our conscious experiences – where we love and admire, hate and despise, plan ahead, reflect back, and decide. Yet, we know very little about how these subjective experiences come about; we know very little about the mechanics of what may be the most precious aspect of our mental life: conscious experience.

Understanding consciousness is crucial for modern theories of human cognition.  Without understanding consciousness’ antecedents, functions, and consequences, we cannot understand homo sapiens. Understanding consciousness is also crucial if we want to improve theories of functions that might seem to be especially human such as planning, holding long-term goals, empathizing, and acting according to moral beliefs.

The research group will address consciousness from interdisciplinary perspectives, including social sciences (psychology, cognitive and decision sciences), life sciences (neuroscience), and the humanities (philosophy). It brings together a diverse and extraordinary group of scientists, junior and senior, female and male, from European, American, and Israeli institutions.



Daphna Shohamy

Daphna Shohamy

Columbia University

Daphna Shohamy is an associate professor in the Psychology department at Columbia University. Her area of interest is the cognitive neuroscience of learning, memory and decision making. She adopts an integrative approach that draws broadly on neuroscience to make predictions about cognition. Predictions are tested in behavioral and neuroimaging studies in healthy individuals, and in patients with isolated damage to specific brain systems.