Axel Cleeremans

Axel Cleeremans


  • Fellow
  • Brain, Mind & Consciousness


  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
Center for Research in Cognition & Neurosciences


  • Belgium


Agrégation de l’enseignement supérieur, Université libre de Bruxelles
PhD (Cognitive Psychology), Carnegie Mellon University
MS (Cognitive Psychology), Carnegie Mellon University
Licence en sciences psychologiques et pédagogiques, Université libre de Bruxelles


Axel Cleeremans’ research focuses on the differences between information processing with and without consciousness, particularly in the domain of learning and memory, and more recently in the domains of perception, social cognition and cognitive control.

He argues that consciousness is the result of unconscious learning mechanisms through
which the brain continuously redescribes, to itself, its interactions with itself, the world
and other people. This hypothesis, the ‘radical plasticity thesis,’ proposes that through
the brain’s continuous learning about its own internal states, some of these states
become available to consciousness, thus suggesting that consciousness is a learned
behaviour rather than a static property.


Ernest-John Solvay Prize for Human and Social Sciences, 2015
Francqui Chair at the Université de Liège, 2013
CHAOS Award, 2011
Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, 2010
Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium, 2009

Relevant Publications

Cleeremans, A. (2014). Connecting conscious and unconscious cognition. Cognitive science, 38(6), 1286–1315. DOI:

Cleeremans, A. (2011). The Radical Plasticity Thesis: How the brain learns to be conscious. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(86), 1–12. DOI: 2011.00086

Bayne, T., Cleeremans, A., Wilken, P. (Eds). (2009). The Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cleeremans, A. (2005). Computational correlates of consciousness. Progress in Brain Research, 150, 81–98. DOI:

Cleeremans, A. (Ed). (2003).The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration, and Dissociation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.