Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Summer School on Consciousness and Metacognition

Training an interdisciplinary cadre of young researchers capable of bringing fundamental theories about mental function to the testing-ground of modern research methods. 

Funded by the IAS, UCL’s Cities partnerships Programme and Université PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres)

model of a brain, credit David Matos on Unsplash

UCL leads: Steve Fleming and Patrick Haggard
PSL leads: Elisabeth Pacherie and Stanislas Dehaene

There is a rich and growing research tradition on these topics in both London and Paris, and within UCL and PSL specifically. Consciousness science is a rapidly expanding area, with the journal Science listing the problems of consciousness as being one of the key challenges for the 21st century. However, despite much excitement in this research area, the tools and interdisciplinary background needed to carry out robust, impactful research in consciousness science are rarely acquired in standard graduate or postdoctoral education, even in cognitive science. In particular, the experimental and analytical tools now available for laboratory research in metacognition and consciousness (eg computational models of metacognition, or the tools for near-threshold psychophysics) and rarely directly linked with foundational perspectives on the problem of consciousness provided by philosophy of mind. The field could be strongly enhanced by training an interdisciplinary cadre of young researchers capable of bringing fundamental theories about mental function to the testing-ground of modern research methods. 

Notably, research on consciousness and metacognition (“thinking about thinking”) spans the neurosciences, psychology, philosophy and artificial intelligence, and is naturally interdisciplinary. An exchange of perspectives across both the humanities and sciences is therefore required for novel advances in this area, and a Summer School is a perfect venue to do this. This research topic meshes well with strategic priority areas of both institutions: the “Creation, cognition, society” theme of PSL’s Interdisciplinary Strategic Research Initiatives, appealing to a fundamental link between a human capacity for conscious awareness and artistic expression; the UCL Grand Challenge themes of Human Wellbeing (because of the mounting evidence that altered metacognition is associated with poor mental health) and also Cultural Understanding (because the social communication of metacognitive states is a central element of common understanding between individuals, and thus culture).  

The School will serve both as an intensive workshop, knowledge exchange and networking opportunity – enabling faculty at both sites to share their latest research, and students to interact both with each other and the speakers, providing feedback and generating new research ideas and collaborations. The meeting will create natural opportunities for students to arrange research visits between the two sites, and enable longer-term student mobility and postdoctoral recruitment. These goals will be enabled by small-group mentorship sessions with individual faculty. The School will complement the UCL-PSL Dual Masters in Brain and Mind Sciences that links the cognitive neuroscience communities in London and Paris.

First Annual Summer School on Consciousness and Metacognition, 28-30 June 2021

Second Annual Summer School on Consciousness and Metacognition, 13, 14 & 15 June 2022

Photo by David Matos on Unsplash