The quest for understanding the mind unites the arts and sciences. Understanding the mind has profound implications for medicine, and for how we place ourselves in society and in nature.
The grand challenge for the Mind and Brain Theme is to understand the mind, and its implications for:
- Health and wellbeing
- Our place in nature and the individual’s place in society
- Art and creativity
- Artificial intelligence
Since the enlightenment, metaphysics has gradually given way to the science of the mind. We can, perhaps, now study emotion, creativity and imagination. Consciousness, which only a decade or so ago was deemed beyond science, is now the target of experimentation. Conscious experience is essential to human suffering, and disorders of consciousness are manifest in conditions as diverse as schizophrenia and autism. The fact that clinical and psychiatric treatments are so often palliative and rudimentary reflects limits of understanding. Moving these limits is a major motivation of intellectual and research endeavour for the new century. Understanding the physical and physiological mechanisms of mind will follow Copernicus and Darwin in redefining our place in nature.
Mind and Brain research is a hallmark of the University of Sussex, and from its inception Sussex put this field of enquiry centre-stage. A Sussex Professor, Christopher Longuet-Higgins, invented the term ‘cognitive sciences’. Today Sussex has leading research groups in neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence. The scope of enquiry, as well as its intellectual depth and rigour, is based on connections and collaborations. We study not only mechanisms but also the philosophy and history of such concepts as mind, subjectivity, and rationality. The Mind and Brain Research Theme is working to support initiatives across campus and with external partners in health, technology and the arts.