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Axel Cleeremans






Hi There!
#1


Enjoy these pages, and remember:
"No matter where you go, there you are"

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Biographical sketch
#2
1978     Roadie for Iggy Pop
1986     Licence en Sciences Psychologiques, ULB
1991     Ph.D. (Psychology), Carnegie Mellon University
1993     Research Associate with the NFSR
1997     Coordinator, ULB Cognitive Science Program
1998     Head, Cognitive Science Research Unit
2001     Agrégation de l'Enseignement Supérieur, ULB
2001     Visiting Scholar, University of Colorado at Boulder
2002     Senior Research Associate, NFSR
2006-    Research Director, NFSR
2007     Chair, COST Action BM0605 on Consciousness
2009-    Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium
2012-    Director, Center for Research in Cognition & Neurosciences
2012     Vice-Director, ULB Neuroscience Institute
2015     Laureate of the F.R.S-FNRS Ernest-John Solvay Prize
2017    Director, ULB Neuroscience Institute
2047     Death by stroke right after having solved consciousness

Goodies:

Download my full CV
View my Wikipedia entry

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Lab & Research
#3
Here is my lab @ ULB — the Consciousness, Cognition & Computation Group.



We mostly work on, well, consciousness, cognition, ... and computation.

The group’s research has always been essentially focused on elucidating the mechanisms that subtend implicit and statistical learning, but its research interests have now broadened substantially to explore the differences between conscious and unconscious processing in domains such as voluntary action and the sense of agency, decision making (including pathological gambling), visual awareness and priming, conditioning and associative learning, skill acquisition, as well as hypnosis, placebo, and suggestion. Additional research lines focus on virtual reality, emotion, cognitive development, cognitive control, and eating behaviour. Some of these research lines take place through the COOL network, which we coordinate.

A second focus is on developing and testing a novel, dynamical theory of consciousness in which learning plays a central role. From this perspective ("The Radical Plasticity" project, funded by the European Research Council), consciousness arises as a result of the brain’s continuous attempts at predicting not only the consequences of action on the world and on other agents, but also the consequences of activity in one cerebral region on activity in other regions. By this account, the brain continuously and unconsciously learns to redescribe its own activity to itself, so developing systems of metarepresentations that characterize and qualify their target representations. To get an overall feel for my perspective on the problem of consciousness, read Consciousness: The Radical Plasticity Thesis and consult this page

To explore these issues, the team combines the three main methods characteristic of contemporary cognitive neurosciences, namely behavioural, brain imaging, and computational modelling methods. CO3 has developed specific expertise in elaborating detailed neural network models of performance in various domains of cognition, and of designing and testing methods to explore the relationships between conscious and unconscious processing. The group has also recently acquired and installed a baby lab to initiate cognitive research on infants.

The lab's research is funded by different sources, including the ULB Neuroscience Institute, the F.R.S.-FNRS, BELSPO, Innoviris, the Walloon Region, the BIAL Foundation, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the European Research Council. The lab is part of the Fondation ULB's research portfolio.

Check out our research on the CRCN website.



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Selected publications
#4
View full list of downloadable publications

View publications on DI-FUSION
View Google Scholar Profile
View Loop Profile
View ResearchGate Profile




View my books on amazon

In the spotlight
Cleeremans, A., Achoui, D., Beauny, A., Keuninck, L., Martin, J.-R., Muñoz-Moldes, S., Vuillaume, L., & de Heering, A. (2020). Learning to be conscious. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Preprint

Theory
Cleeremans, A. (2014). Connecting conscious and unconscious cognition. Cognitive science, 38(6), 1286-1315. PDF

Timmermans, B., Schilbach, L., Pasquali, A., & Cleeremans, A. (2012). Higher-order thoughts in action: Consciousness as an unconscious redescription process. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367(1594), 1412-1423. PDF

Cleeremans, A. (2011). The Radical Plasticity Thesis: How the brain learns to be conscious. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 1-12. PDF

Cleeremans, A. & Jiménez, L. (2002). Implicit learning and consciousness: A graded, dynamic perspective. In French, R.M. & Cleeremans, A. (Eds.), Implicit Learning and Consciousness: An empirical, philosophical and computational consensus in the making (pp. 1-40). Hove: Psychology Press. PDF

Cleeremans, A. (1997). Principles for implicit learning. In D. Berry (Ed.), How implicit is implicit learning? , pp. 195-234. Oxford: OUP. PDF


Methods
Timmermans, B., & Cleeremans, A. (2015). How can we measure awareness? An overview of current methods. In M. Overgaard (Ed.), Behavioural Methods in Consciousness Research, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 21-46. PDF

Vermeiren, A., & Cleeremans, A. (2012). The validity of d’ measures. PLoS One, (7)2, e31595. PDF

Sandberg, C., Timmermans, B., Overgaard, M., & Cleeremans, A. (2010). Measuring consciousness: Is one measure better than the other? Consciousness & Cognition, 19, 1069-1078. PDF

Seth, A.K., Dienes, Z., Cleeremans, A., Overgaard, M., & Pessoa, L. (2008). Measuring consciousness: Relating behavioural and neurophysiological approaches. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(8), 314-321. PDF


Controversial
Doyen, S., Klein, O., Pichon, C.-L., & Cleeremans, A. (2012). Behavioural priming: It’s all in the mind, but whose mind? PLoS OnePDF

Waroquier, L., Marchiori, D., Klein, O., & Cleeremans, A. (2010). Is it better to think unconsciously or to trust your first impression? A reassessment of Unconscious Thought Theory. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(2), 111-118. PDF


Funky
Caspar, E. Christensen, J.F., Cleeremans, A., & Haggard, P. (2016). Coercion changes the sense of agency in the human brain. Current Biology, 26, 1-8. Media coverage

Caspar, E., De Beir, A., Magalhães de Saladanha da Gama, P., Yernaux, F., Cleeremans, A., Vanderborght, B. (2014). New frontiers in the rubber hand experiment: When a robotic hand becomes one’s own. Behaviour Research Methods. PDF

Magalhães de Saladanha da Gama, P., Slama, H., Caspar, E., Gevers, W., & Cleeremans, A. (2013). Placebo-suggestion modulates conflict resolution in the Stroop Task. PLos One 8(10): e75701. PDF

Atas, A., Faivre, N., Timmermans, B., Cleeremans, A. & Kouider, S. (2013). Nonconscious learning from crowded sequences. Psychological Science, 25(1), 113–119. PDF

Windey, B., Gevers, W., & Cleeremans, A. (2013). Subjective visibility depends on level of processing. Cognition, 44(2), 404-409. PDF


Classic
Maquet, P., Laureys, S., Peigneux, P., Fuchs, S., Petiaux, C., Phillips, C., Aerts, J., Delfiore, G., Degueldre, C., Meulemans, T., Luxen, A., Franck, G., Van der Linden, M., Smith, C., & Cleeremans, A. (2000). Experience-dependent changes in cerebral activation during human REM sleep, Nature Neuroscience, 3(8), 831-836. PDF

Destrebecqz, A., & Cleeremans, A. (2001). Can sequence learning be implicit? New evidence with the Process Dissociation Procedure, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(2), pp. 343-350. PDF

Cleeremans, A., Destrebecqz, A., & Boyer, M. (1998). Implicit learning: News from the front. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2, 406-416. PDF

Cleeremans, A. & McClelland, J.L. (1991). Learning the structure of event sequences. Journal of Experimental Psychology : General, 120, 235-253. PDF

Cleeremans, A., Servan-Schreiber, D., & McClelland, J.L. (1989). Finite State Automata and Simple Recurrent Networks. Neural Computation, 1, 372-381. PDF

Unpublished
Cleeremans, A. Hans le Malin: Les sciences cognitives à la croisée des chemins

Goodies:

The best reprint request I ever got


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Teaching
#5
I teach the Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Philosophie des Sciences Cognitives, PHILB-315) class in the Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences Sociales, together with philosopher Jean-Noël Missa. This class is accessible to any master-level student from the Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences Sociales or from the Faculté des Sciences Psychologiques et de l'Education. 

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Scientific Societies
#6
European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP), President 2009-2011
Belgian Association for Psychological Science (BAPS), President 2005-2008
National Committee for the Psychological Sciences, Secretary-General
Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), Board member
Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI), Member
Association for Psychological Science (APS), Fellow
Experimental Psychology Society (EPS), Member
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Senior Fellow
Royal Academy of Belgium, Member
 
Goodies:

I spend a lot of time going to the different meetings these societies organise. I keep all the badges. I am a strange badge.
At ASSC19 I got a poster. I hate posters, so I turned mine into an ad for a pirate talk I gave in the hallways. This is not a poster.

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Editorial Work
#7
Field Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers in Psychology (2009-)
Associate Editor, Consciousness and Cognition (2009-)
Editor, Psychologica Belgica (2000-2005)
Associate editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (1997-2000)
Associate editor for the European Journal of Cognitive Psychology (1997-2000)
Consulting editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: LMC (1997-1999)
Ad Hoc referee for several major psychology journals and funding agencies

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Small Talk
#8
I have spoken in public on many different occasions and in hundreds of different places over the years, from scientific lectures delivered in stately lecture halls to interviews in television studios.

A fraction of these interventions have been recorded and are available on youtube.

The Royal Academy of Belgium also has a terrific "TV" website containing a substantial collection of audio and video recordings of lectures delivered within its stately walls. I have my own little channel there.




Goodies:

The best workshop I ever participated in
The best rendition of one of my talks I've ever seen!

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Code
#9


Download Mac OS X application
Download Windows application
View Source Code

This application, built with the excellent Processing and featured on visual complexity.com, is a demonstration of "Interactive Activation and Competition" neural networks, as first described by J.L. McClelland in the following paper:

McClelland, J.L. (1981). Retrieving general and specific information from stored knowledge of specifics. Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 170-172. 

A more complete description of the network is also available in:

Rumelhart, D.E., McClelland, J.L., and the PDP research group (1986).Parallel Distributed Processing Volume 1: Foundations, MIT Press

The model was a landmark illustration of how simple networks of interconnected elements (artificial neurons, so to speak) can be organized so as to form a system that exhibits several crucial properties of human memory.

Read more about the model

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Pointers
#10
Here is a list of all sorts of interesting places on the web:

Kottke [blogging pioneer; content always interesting]
The Retraction Watch store [retraction watch merchandise!]
Daring Fireball [intelligent analysis of the state of the mac and the computer industry]
Books read by Christof Koch [I found many interesting books there]
Letters of Note [a curated collection of interesting letters]
Feltron [graphic design + personal data mining]
Tufte [a classic. Edward Tufte's books on graphic design for (mostly) scientific applications are bar none]
Neuroconscience [Micah Allen's blog on cognitive neuroscience]
Aeon [good papers in there]
Processing [a tool for algorithmic graphic design]
Wellcome collections online (inc. the stunning Mindcraft)
Midnight Planets [a raw feed of curiosity images]
BoingBoing ["A directory of mostly wonderful things"]
Res Obscura ["A catalog of obscure things"]

Good Stuff

Paul Smith | Iron Heart | Robert James
Linn
Rancilio
Kuru Toga | rOtring | Pentel Tradio | Montblanc
Apple
Moo
Lunor | Matsuda

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Leisure
#11
Not really. My philosophy about hobbies is embodied in this Andrew Carnegie quote: 

"My heart is in the work"

I still remember the moment I first saw it engraved on the ceiling of Carnegie Mellon's Baker Hall and breaking out a sweat getting all anxious about finishing the Ph.D. I hadn't started yet. My concept of a vacation is when I am alone in my office while everybody thinks I am on vacation. In light of the above, here is another quote (from Lily Tomlin) I've grown to appreciate: 

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win it, you're still a rat"

Other than that, I like zombies, koalasrollercoasters, ferris wheelspsychotronic videos, Octomore, and books.


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The Cabinet of Natural Philosophers
#12
If you made all it the way down here you deserve to know about my collection of photographic portraits of friends and esteemed colleagues,  — my ever-expanding Cabinet of Natural Philosophers. In the spirit of the Victorian-Era fashion for "Cabinets of Natural Curiosities" — elaborate private collections of wonders from the world —, this flickr  set contains pictures of famous and not-so famous scientists and philosophers. Many are friends; most work on consciousness. Enjoy!

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As above, so below
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20 years of ASSC history
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Prediction as a computational correlate of consciousness
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The social roots of consciousness
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This beautiful website skillfully handcrafted by DOTBURO
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Happy I don’t have @Poplak as a referee - but this is a great read! https://t.co/0W77tNphaW

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RT @DrywallAnchor: @JRMorber Sea Monkeys actually have a fascinating story: https://t.co/iT0NnTG6Ti

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What a weird dialog. Reading cannot be undone. When seven or so, my daughter told me that she couldn’t help but read street signs anymore. At that point, I knew she had nailed it. https://t.co/8O622zFm38

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2021
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RT @ERCGrantees: Great that the EU is consulting its citizens about the future of Europe! But shouldn't the future include fundamental rese…

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@CRSScience Even after visiting your website I am not sure what “delivery science is”. Do you mean actual deliveries, like food from Uber? Or babies? Plastic through the Suez canal? 😵‍💫
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@JerzyOrsel @DirkScheffers @ljuba_pi @ERCGrantees @​ERC_Research But unfortunately only accessible to the 6.5M belgians living in Flanders …
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⭐️Congratulations to ⭐️@IngaBerre — the @​ERC_Research 10.000th grantee! - what an amazing milestone for European Science! We are delighted to extend a lifetime membership to her in our Association (conditional on her bringing the other 9999 grantees into the fold Grinning face) https://t.co/PWToMan7Uv

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2021
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RT @​axelcleeremans​: ⭐️Congratulations ⭐️to @IngaBerre — the @​ERC_Research 10.000th grantee! - what an amazing milestone for European Scienc…

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⭐️Congratulations ⭐️to @IngaBerre — the @​ERC_Research 10.000th grantee! - what an amazing milestone for European Science! We are delighted to extend a lifetime membership to her in our Association (conditional on her bringing the other 9999 grantees into the fold ?) https://t.co/PSAFYioOiB

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Here is my @​ERC_Research @ERCGrantees story: 2010: Almost go for an AdG, but decide not to 2011: Apply & miss the boat by a hair 2012: Resub & end up at the wrong terminal 2013: Resub again & am promoted to captain ? Will do it all over again - hurts when over! #ERC10kGrantees​https://t.co/Q45pRXGShK
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RT @lauraakelley: Winner of best pandemic project? Citizen science project 'If I fits I sits'. Cats like to sit in enclosed spaces, and tre…

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Wouldn’t it be great if s/he were a political scientist working on public funding of fundamental research? More likely, something like ribosome function or 11th century composition or boson quantum states - a vast universe of possibilities ? https://t.co/6hk899TYOM
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@micahgallen I am sure I would show a strong hair-evoked brain response - interoception feels like it extends all the way to the very tip of each strand

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RT @ERCGrantees: Excited to announce that @​ERC_Research grantee Uğur Şahin, whom we will host tomorrow @ 17:30 CEST on the occasion of our…

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RT @Franz_Berto: @​philosophybites How likely is it that expensive face to face teaching stays there for richer students in elite universiti…

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@TimKietzmann They do not actually write the articles ?
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Haha you guys / I submitted this (almost) as a joke, but I always do serious things with humour and funny things very seriously, so ? https://t.co/v8p7NDEaCA
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Looking forward! https://t.co/dqUD3fI5pN
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@anilkseth @​ERC_Research Congrats!! now scoot over here: https://t.co/fItgbIG07h
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@micahgallen finally. man.
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