Dr Valerie van Mulukom’s research takes place broadly in the overlap between the cognitive science of imagination, memory and belief. She combines methods from cognitive neuroscience and social and experimental psychology to attempt to answer questions about human nature and the human experience.
She focuses in particular on 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, or potential transformative effects on our identities.
In addition, she is interested in 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 (incl. conspiracy theories), and what contexts we do so.
Valerie has 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.
Valerie has supervised four PhD students, three master students and one honour student to graduation, and is currently supervising two PhD students and a master student, 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.