I grew up in a rural village near Hoyerswerda in Saxony, east Germany. Having grown up in a quiet environment within a quickly reforming place after German reunification, I can appreciate change, but also the quiet, animals, and for some reason Star Trek. A lot of my adolescence I spent in boarding schools in Germany, Scotland and Bosnia; not because I needed to be straightened out, but because since I remember I wanted to see different parts of the world: For instance, the United World College in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, is a truly remarkable school that tries to bring people from all over the world together to learn from and with one another. Many ofmytruest friends I know from there and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to study at a place that puts such a high emphasis on social services and conflict resolution.
Afterwards I started my studies in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in 2009. Since then my research interests have moved around from economics over physics to the philosophy of mind, an area that I have specialised in for the rest of my degree and one of the topics on which I plan to write quite a bit on this site. More specifically, for my master’s dissertation I was researching whether the supervenient relationships between crystals and their constituent molecules in quantum chemistry can help us explain the causal efficacy of complex neural networks. Furthermore, I am exploring conflicts between neuroscience and the architecture of the mind.
A great challenge for philosophers is to conceive theories of the mind which are neurally implementable and scientifically credible. To that end, my research interests have become a lot of more empirical since I started pursuing neuroscience as a field of study. In my MSc degree in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology, also at Edinburgh, I focused particularly on visual perception, consciousness and neuroplasticity, with emphasis on the role of the parietal cortex, using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
After my time in Edinburgh came to a close, I decided to move down south to England in order to work with Anil Seth and Ryota Kanai at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science near Brighton. My work at the Sackler Centre, which was supported by a Chancellor’s scholarship from the University of Sussex, built on my previous work by using concurrent and neuronavigated TMS with electroencephalography (EEG) on multiple parietal sites during bistable perception. This was the first study to make full use of Sackler’s state of the art TMS-EEG lab. During my year at Sackler, I also worked on a joint project between the Sackler Centre and Utrecht University in the Netherlands on the role of superior parietal cortex in attention.
After only a year though, it was again time to move, this time to Tübingen, in the south of Germany. Here I joined the group of Andreas Bartels to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. Recently, much neuroimaging research on consciousness has come under scrutiny. Especially fMRI studies on binocular rivalry have come under attack for possibly conflating the neural correlates of consciousness with those of motor report and metacognition. By use of no-report rivalry paradigms as well as newly developed invisible rivalry, we aim to untangle these correlates and thereby uncover the neural basis of visual consciousness.
I use fMRI in order to discern brain areas associated with visual consciousness. However, these simple associations do not themselves allow for causal inferences as to the role of these ares. In order to make these, I interfere with their normal function by use of neuronavigated TMS. I also make use of state-of-the-art combined fMRI-TMS to probe directly how TMS affects not just consciousness, but brain function. Also I experiment with combined TMS-EEG.
My interests are certainly not confined to philosophy and neuroscience though. I have been a tour guide in the Meissen Porcelain Museum, learnt and taught Ballroom dancing for a few years, there was a time when I spent several hours a week preparing for Model United Nations conferences and of course been very active in the theatre! This is nother topic that I want to post about and I would be thrilled to read some comments in that category. Most recently I have started painting and playing the Celtic whistle.