Research Group Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

The overall goal of the Research Group Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition (NCC) is to accelerate our understanding of how we see (perception), why some experience feels the way it does (consciousness) and how those experiences get imprinted on our brain (learning and memory) – as well as the interplay between these processes.

A deep mystery in science is understanding why living things, such as humans and perhaps other animals are conscious, while machines, despite all their superb abilities and apparent intelligence are not. Why do we experience suffering? Why do we marvel in front of a piece of art, or feel time stopping and have the ‘chills’ when listening to a musical masterpiece? Our group seeks to tackle those challenging questions.

We use multiple methods to get at those questions, ranging from invasive and non-invasive electrophysiology, neuroimaging, and patient studies over behavioral techniques to online surveys and computational modelling. 

We are an interdisciplinary group committed to advancing the scientific ecosystem. We are pursuing a new format of team science which combines open science with adversarial collaboration, and aims at accelerating discoveries by capitalizing on intellectual diversity. We pursue large-scale collaborations, aimed at building a brain observatory, to accelerate discoveries by pooling resources and the best minds, thus making science sustainable by preserving knowledge and minimizing unnecessary efforts. For more information, visit our website at arc-cogitate.com.

News

Neues Talkformat gewährt Blicke hinter den offiziellen Lebenslauf von Wissenschaftler/innen

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Events

Growing up in Academia with Emily Cross

The Happy Union of Very Diverse Sets of Passions

Join us for a deep talk with Emily Cross, Professor of Social Robotics, Centre for Social, Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow.

Hosted and presented by Lucia Melloni, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics.

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Videos

Lucia Melloni

Join Richard Brown for a discussion with Lucia Melloni, Liad Mudrik, and Michal Pitts as they discuss COGITATE – an innovative Open Science, preregistered adversarial collaboration focused on arbitrating between two leading theories of consciousness, Integrated Information Theory (IIT) and Global Neuronal Workspace theory (GNW).

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Lucia Melloni

BrainMind Summit: Consciousness Day at Stanford

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Lucia Melloni

Debate between Andy Clark, David Heeger, Lucia Melloni and Michael Rescorla at NYU. Moderated by Ned Block. Sponsored by the NYU Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness.

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Projects

  • Neural mechanisms by which the brain predictively controls perception and cognition

    A central yet unanswered question in neuroscience concerns the cortical mechanisms by which the brain predictively controls perception and higher-level cognitive functions, e.g., language. My studies investigate how predictions about upcoming ...

  • The structure of subjective experience

    Consciousness is one of the most fascinating yet least understood aspects of human nature, or perhaps nature at large. Our lives dwell in our conscious experiences: this is where we experience love, we feel the ‘chills’ with a good piece of ...

  • Testing theories of consciousness

    Every day we lose and regain consciousness as we fall asleep and wake up. Yet, we still do not know how consciousness come about in the brain. Our long-term goal is to shed light onto this fundamental question: how does a physical system, such as ...

  • Methods development

    Advancements in science necessitate theories, to make sense of observations and to predict new observations, but also sensitive methods to enable observations at the right scale. As we need a telescope to look at the galaxy far away, we need ...

  • Mental units of temporal experience

    Our mind breaks the continuous stream of experience into events, or chunks. Events are meaningful episodes that unfold over time, such as throwing a ball. We can understand, for instance, who is throwing a ball to whom and at what speed. Events ...

  • The interplay between perception and memory

    From the thousands of experiences we have each day, only a few will be remembered. How and why is this so? We are interested in the question of how the continuous living present is broken up into pieces that will be remembered, and the distortion ...

Latest Publications

Cappotto, D., Kang, H., Li, K., Melloni, L., Schnupp, J., & Auksztulewicz, R. (2022). Simultaneous mnemonic and predictive representations in the auditory cortex (In Press, Corrected Proof). Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2022.04.022.
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Goldstein, A., Zada, Z., Buchnik, E., Schain, M., Price, A., Aubrey, B., Nastase, S. A., Feder, A., Emanuel, D., Cohen, A., Jansen, A., Gazula, H., Choe, G., Rao, A., Kim, C., Casto, C., Fanda, L., Doyle, W., Friedman, D., Dugan, P., Melloni, L., Reichart, R., Devore, S., Flinker, A., Hasenfratz, L., Levy, O., Hassidim, A., Brenner, M., Matias, Y., Norman, K. A., Devinsky, O., & Hasson, U. (2022). Shared computational principles for language processing in humans and deep language models. Nature Neuroscience,25, 369-380. doi:10.1038/s41593-022-01026-4.
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Melloni, L. (2022). On keeping our adversaries close, preventing collateral damage, and changing our minds. Comment on Clark et al. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition,11(1), 45-49. doi:10.1037/mac0000009.
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Iemi, L., Gwilliams, L., Samaha, J., Auksztulewicz, R., Cycowicz, Y. M., King, J.-R., Nikulin, V. V., Thesen, T., Doyle, W., Devinsky, O., Schroeder, C. E., Melloni, L., & Haegens, S. (2022). Ongoing neural oscillations influence behavior and sensory representations by suppressing neuronal excitability. NeuroImage,247: 118746. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118746.
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Yaron, I., Melloni, L., Pitts, M., & Mudrik, L. (2022). The ConTraSt database for analysing and comparing empirical studies of consciousness theories. Nature Human Behaviour. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01284-5.
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Pu, Y., Kong, X.-Z., Ranganath, C., & Melloni, L. (2022). Event boundaries shape temporal organization of memory by resetting temporal context. Nature Communications,13: 622. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-28216-9.
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Grent-'t-Jong, T., Melloni, L., & Uhlhaas, P. J. (2021). Dissociation and brain rhythms: Pitfalls and promises. Frontiers in Psychiatry. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.790372.
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Joining the Research Group

Our research program spans cognitive and systems neuroscience. We are always on the lookout for master students, graduate students and post-docs with expertise in any of the following areas: Electrophysiology,  Neuroimaging, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Neurinformatics or Biomedical Engineering.

Potential undergraduate/graduate students and post-docs should contact Lucia Melloni directly at:
lucia.melloni@ae.mpg.de

Contact

Lucia Melloni

Prof. Lucia Melloni, PhD

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Forschungsgruppenleiterin

+49 69 8300479-330

E-Mail

Diana Gleiß

Diana Gleiß

Forschungsgruppen

Assistentin der Forschungsgruppenleiter/innen

+49 69 8300479-801

E-Mail

Team

Darinka Truebutschek

Dr. Darinka Truebutschek

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

+49 69 8300479-332

E-Mail

Yi Pu

Dr. Yi Pu

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

+49 69 8300479-331

E-Mail

Alex Lepauvre

Alex Lepauvre

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+49 69 8300479-381

E-Mail

Zefan Zheng

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+49 69 8300479-341

E-Mail

Tanya Brown

Tanya Brown

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Koordinatorin für Wissenschaft

+49 69 8300479-385

E-Mail

Praveen Sripad

Praveen Sripad

Forschungsgruppe Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+49 69 8300479-333

E-Mail

Current Collaborators

Hal Blumenfeld
Helena Cousjin
Stanislas Dehaene
Floris deLange
Federico de Martino
Leon Deouell
Orrin Devinsky
Ole Jensen
Gabriel Kreiman
Christof Koch
Huan Luo
Liad Mudrik
Michael Pitts
Fanis Panagiotaropoulos 
Caspar M. Schwiedrzik
Giulio Tononi
Nick Turk-Browne
Charan Ranganath
Taufik Valiante
Essa Yacoub    
Elana Zion-Golumbic

Funding

MPI
MURI
GIF
TWCF
NIH
LOEWE
MARIE CURIE