Research

Meditation. At VU University Amsterdam, I’m researching how long-term meditation practice affects the most basic processes of the brain, and thereby shedding light on just how malleable and plastic humans are. Is it possible that meditation genuinely allows practitioners to perceive the world in a more direct way, beyond conceptions? What is the “present moment”? As a general paradigm, I’m motivated to bridge the phenomenology of meditation with third person tools and am careful not to over-prioritise the brain, and hence acknowledge the interconnectedness of brain, body, people, and world.

I’m working with Professor Heleen Slagter, at the Cognition and Plasticity Lab. https://www.heleenslagter.com/

Insight. I also research insight experiences, epiphanies, and Eureka moments. During my PhD I developed a theory which proposes that humans use their feelings of insight as an intuitive way of evaluating the quality of their own ideas. There are strong connections between epiphanic experience and genuine understanding and discovery, but also between delusions, psychosis, and schizophrenia. One goal here is to identify what contexts, states of mind, and neurological differences predict the veracity of our insight moments.

Most of this work is in collaboration with A/Professor Jason Tangen from The University of Queensland (where I did my PhD) and Professor Jonathan Schooler from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and PhD student Hilary Grimmer.

Nobel laureate John Nash was asked why he thought aliens were recruiting him to save the world. He said, “…the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did, so I took them seriously.”