My research takes place broadly in the overlap between the cognitive science of memory, imagination, and belief. I combine methods from cognitive neuroscience and social and experimental psychology to attempt to answer questions about the human experience, with a focus on the cognitive and evolutionary science of belief.
One aspect of that research is to examine how we become absorbed in extraordinary experiences, such as awe or psychedelic experiences, religious or mystical experiences, experiencing or making art, and the feeling of flow or intuition, and what effects this has on us, such as our connectedness to others, nature, or the universe, including potentially transformative effects on our identities.
Another aspect is the evolution of imagination and memory; for example how narrative, supported by imagination, allows humans to make sense of the world, and how our capacity for imagination allows us to construct social realities and live together in large societies. This research strand includes an interest in how we come to believe certain narratives – such as conspiracy theories -, and in what contexts we do so.
I have written numerous popular science articles for The Conversation, which have been hosted by BBC Future, the Daily Mail, Newsweek, Business Insider, World Economic Forum, PBS, and others. Get in touch to get a story or have a chat.
I have supervised four PhD students, four master students and one honour student to graduation, and am currently supervising two PhD students, but is also accepting new students. Get in touch if you have research ideas and want to have a chat – no matter how informal and regardless of funding situation in the first instance.