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Studying, Measuring and Altering Consciousness through information theory in the electrical brain

Objective

What is consciousness? Can it be measured? While humankind has struggled with these questions for millennia, our project will focus on more modest but nonetheless ambitious and related goals. Inspired by recent developments in neuroscience and the potential role of fundamental concepts such as information integration and algorithmic complexity, we will study, model, quantify, and alter observable aspects of consciousness. Our vision is that consciousness will someday be electromagnetically measured and altered, and that the associated needed insights will prove crucial to the development cognitive sciences.
The conceptual framework of the project rests on information theoretic developments that link consciousness to the amount of information that a physical system can represent and generate as an integrated whole, and from the related idea that consciousness can be quantified by metrics reflecting information processing and representation complexity.
Supported by computational neuroscience models, we aim to create non-invasive consciousness-probing technologies integrating electro- and magneto-encephalography, peripheral and non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) with advanced techniques to analyse brain activity – including functional and effective connectivity. Based on the derived brain activity metrics, we will explore intervention, ie the use of NIBS to alter consciousness. To achieve these goals we will pursue computational neuroscience models and human studies – in perception, sleep, anaesthesia, locked-in syndrome, disorders of consciousness, and in utero – supported by machine learning to disentangle the essential aspects of consciousness.
The project will also explore the ethical implications of such technologies and the prospects for clinical translation. If successful, this paradigm-shifting work will have profound social and clinical impact and provide key insights in fundamental neuroscience and artificial cognition research.

Call for proposal

H2020-FETOPEN-2014-2015-RIA
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Coordinator

STARLAB BARCELONA SL
Address
Avenida Tibidabo 47 Bis
08035 Barcelona
Spain
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
EU contribution
€ 612 625

Participants (7)

FORSCHUNGSGESELLSCHAFT FUR ARBEITSPHYSIOLOGIE UND ARBEITSSCHUTZ EV
Germany
EU contribution
€ 567 162,50
Address
Ardeystrasse 67
44139 Dortmund
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITE DE LIEGE
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 544 680
Address
Place Du 20 Aout 7
4000 Liege
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO
Italy
EU contribution
€ 322 080
Address
Via Festa Del Perdono 7
20122 Milano
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EBERHARD KARLS UNIVERSITAET TUEBINGEN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 475 375
Address
Geschwister-scholl-platz
72074 Tuebingen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA SANTE ET DE LA RECHERCHE MEDICALE
France
EU contribution
€ 364 250
Address
Rue De Tolbiac 101
75654 Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 600 776
Address
University Offices, Wellington Square
OX1 2JD Oxford
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
HELMHOLTZ ZENTRUM MUENCHEN DEUTSCHES FORSCHUNGSZENTRUM FUER GESUNDHEIT UND UMWELT GMBH
Germany
EU contribution
€ 438 640
Address
Ingolstadter Landstrasse 1
85764 Neuherberg
Activity type
Research Organisations