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Anil Seth named co-director of Azrieli program in Brain, Mind & Consciousness

by Jon Farrow Jan 20 / 20

A neuroscientist with interests that cross disciplines, Seth plans to build bridges between CIFAR programs.

Anil Seth

“I am thrilled to be taking on this new role,” says Anil Seth, professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex. “To work with such an incredible group of researchers, on some of the most important questions in modern science—and with the backing of CIFAR—is a dream come true.”

A fellow in the program since 2016, Seth is no stranger to leadership. He is the co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, co-director of the Leverhulme Doctoral Programme: From Sensation & Perception to Awareness, editor-in-chief for the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness, and a Wellcome Trust engagement fellow.

“As well as maximising our research contributions within the program, I am excited about opportunities to collaborate with other CIFAR programs, and to foster an enhanced impact of CIFAR activities both within and beyond academia," adds Seth.

His ability to bridge disciplines and communicate effectively brought him to wider public attention in 2017, when he delivered a TED talk which now has more than nine million views, but his research has long been highly regarded. In 2019, he was named a Highly Cited Researcher, whose publications rank in the top 1% of papers in his field over the last decade.

 

“Anil’s great strength is that he’s just as comfortable discussing issues in cognitive and computational neuroscience as he is in philosophy,” says Ivey Fellow Mel Goodale, who has stepped down as co-director but who will stay affiliated with the program as a fellow. Building on the trust established over the first five years of the program, Goodale is excited to take on high-risk, high-reward projects with his colleagues in the program.

"Anil Seth is one of the few people I know who is smart enough, and nice enough, to fill Mel Goodale’s shoes,” says Koerner fellow Adrian Owen, who will stay on as co-director of the program with Seth. “The Azrieli Program in Brain, Mind, and Consciousness has had an incredible first five years and with Anil at the helm I think there is every reason to believe that the next five will even more successful.”


The quality of our consciousness is what sets us apart from other species, and seems to be one of the defining traits of being human. Yet the nature of consciousness remains a mystery. The Azrieli Brain, Mind & Consciousness program grapples with the fundamental underpinnings of consciousness, and relates the findings to biology on the one hand and to philosophical questions on the other.