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>Danko Nikolic
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About The Speaker

Danko Nikolic

The main motive for my studies is the explanatory gap between the brain and the mind. My interest is in how the physical world of neuronal activity produces the mental world of perception and cognition. I am associated with the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Ernst Strüngmann Institute, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, and the University of Zagreb. I approach the problem of the explanatory gap from both sides, bottom-up and top-down. The bottom-up approach investigates brain physiology. The top-down approach investigates behavior and experiences. Each of the two approaches led me to develop a theory: The work on behavior and experiences led me to discover the phenomenon of ideasthesia (meaning “sensing concepts”). The work on physiology resulted in the theory of practopoiesis (meaning “creation of actions”). The empirical work in the background of those theories involved simultaneous recordings of the activity of 100+ neurons in the visual cortex (extracellular recordings), behavioral and imaging studies in visual cognition (attention, working memory, long-term memory), and empirical investigations of phenomenal experiences (synesthesia). The ultimate goal of my studies is twofold. First, I would like to achieve a conceptual understanding of how the dynamics of physical processes create the mental ones. I believe that the work on practopoiesis presents an important step in this direction and that it will help us eventually address the hard problem of consciousness and the mind-body problem in general. Second, I would like to use this theoretical knowledge to create artificial systems that are biologically-like intelligent and adaptive.