Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science



image of front cover of Anil's Seth's book Being YouBeing You

Anil Seth

September 2021
Faber & Faber

Anil Seth's radical new theory of consciousness challenges our understanding of perception and reality, doing for brain science what Dawkins did for evolutionary biology.



Image of the cover of Transfer Entropy book

An Introduction to Transfer Entropy. Information Flow in Complex Systems

Terry Bossomaier, Lionel Barnett, Michael Harré, Joseph T. Lizier

November 2016 
Springer International

This book considers a relatively new metric in complex systems, transfer entropy, derived from a series of measurements, usually a time series. After a qualitative introduction and a chapter that explains the key ideas from statistics required to understand the text, the authors then present information theory and transfer entropy in depth. A key feature of the approach is the authors' work to show the relationship between information flow and complexity. The later chapters demonstrate information transfer in canonical systems, and applications, for example in neuroscience and in finance. The book will be of value to advanced undergraduate and graduate students and researchers in the areas of computer science, neuroscience, physics, and engineering.


Cover image for the book 30 Second Brain

30-Second Brain: The 50 most mind-blowing ideas in neuroscience

Edited By Anil Seth

March 2014 
Ivy Press

Are we all at the mercy of our brain chemistry? Do you think that the amygdala and the hippocampus are fantastical sea monsters? What can an MRI scan tell us? Could you explain to dinner-party guests why we don't giggle when we tickle ourselves?  30 Second Brain is here to fill your mind with the science of exactly what’s happening inside your head. Using no more than two pages, 300 words and an illustration, this is the quickest way to understand the wiring and function of the most complex and intricate mechanism in the human body. Discover how the networks of 90 billion nerve cells work together to produce perception, action, cognition and emotion. Explore how your brain defines your personality, and what it gets up to while you are asleep.

This book has contributions from Sackler Centre and Sussex University researchers Daniel Bor, Ryota Kanai, Michael O'Shea, Anil Seth, and Jamie Ward. There are also chapters from Tristan Bekinschtein and Christian Jarrett.

Ilustrated with mind-bending graphics and supported by biographies of pioneers in the field of neuroscience, its the book to get your grey matter thinking about your grey matter.

The Ravenous Brain

The Ravenous Brain

Daniel Bor

August  2012 
Basic Books

Consciousness is our gateway to experience: It enables us to recognize Van Gogh’s starry skies, be enraptured by Beethoven’s Fifth, and stand in awe of a snowcapped mountain. Yet consciousness is subjective, personal, and famously difficult to examine: Philosophers have for centuries declared this mental entity so mysterious as to be impenetrable to science.

In The Ravenous Brain, neuroscientist Daniel Bor departs sharply from this historical view, and builds on the latest research to propose a new model for how consciousness works. Bor argues that this brain-based faculty evolved as an accelerated knowledge gathering tool. Consciousness is effectively an ideas factory—that choice mental space dedicated to innovation, a key component of which is the discovery of deep structures within the contents of our awareness.

This model explains our brains’ ravenous appetite for information—and in particular, its constant search for patterns: Why, for instance, after all our physical needs have been met, do we recreationally solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles? Such behavior may appear biologically wasteful, but, according to Bor, this general need to search for structure can often yield immense evolutionary benefits—it led our ancestors to discover fire and farming, pushed modern society to forge ahead in science and technology, and guides each one of us so profoundly to understand and control the world around us. But, Bor argues, the sheer innovative power of human consciousness carries with it the heavy cost of mental fragility. Bor therefore discusses the medical implications of his theory of consciousness, and what it means for the origins and treatment of psychiatric ailments, including attention-deficit disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression, and autism. All mental illnesses, he argues, can be reformulated as disorders of consciousness—a perspective that opens up new avenues of treatment for alleviating mental suffering.

A controversial view of consciousness, The Ravenous Brain links cognition to creativity in an ingenious solution to one of science’s biggest mysteries.

Modelling Natural Action Selection

Modelling Natural Action Selection


Anil K. Seth, University of Sussex 
Tony J. Prescott, University of Sheffield 
Joanna J. Bryson, University of Bath

November 2011 
Cambridge University Press

Action selection is the task of doing the right thing at the right time. It requires the assessment of available alternatives, executing those most appropriate, and resolving conflicts among competing goals and possibilities. Using advanced computational modelling, this book explores cutting-edge research into action selection in nature from a wide range of disciplines, from neuroscience to behavioural ecology, and even political science. It delivers new insights into both detailed and systems-level attributes of natural intelligence and demonstrates advances in methodological practice. Contributions from leading researchers cover issues including whether biological action selection is optimal, neural substrates for action selection in the vertebrate brain, perceptual selection in decision making, and interactions between group and individual action selection. This first integrated review of action selection in nature contains a balance of review and original research material, consolidating current knowledge into a valuable reference for researchers while illustrating potential paths for future studies.

Image of The Student's Guide to Social Neuroscience

The Student's Guide to Social Neuroscience 2nd Edition

Jamie Ward

December 2016 

Social neuroscience is an expanding field which, by investigating the neural mechanisms that inform our behaviour, explains our ability to recognize, understand, and interact with others. Concepts such as trust, revenge, empathy, prejudice, and love are now being explored and unravelled by the methods of neuroscience.

Many researchers believe that evolutionary expansion of the primate and human brain was driven by the need to deal with social complexity, not only to understand and outwit our peers, but to take advantage of the benefits of cooperative living. But what kind of brain-based mechanisms did we end up with? Special routines for dealing with social problems, or more general solutions that can be used for non-social cognition too? How are we able to sacrifice our own self-interests to respond to the needs of others? How do cultural differences in the organization of society shape individual minds (and brains), and does the brain provide constraints on the possible range of cultural permutations? The Student’s Guide to Social Neuroscience explores and explains these big issues, using accessible examples from contemporary research.

The first book of its kind, this engaging and cutting-edge text is an ideal introduction to the methods and concepts of social neuroscience for undergraduate and postgraduate students in fields such as psychology and neuroscience. Each chapter is richly illustrated in attractive full-colour with figures, boxes, and ‘real-world’ implications of research. Several pedagogical features help students engage with the material, including essay questions, summary and key points, and further reading. This book is accompanied by substantial online resources that are available to qualifying adopters.

Space and Time in Perception and Action

Space and Time in Perception and Action

Edited by Romi Nijhawan

October 2010 
Cambridge University Press

What is the instantaneous position of a moving object from the point of view of the observer? How does a tennis player know when and where to place their racket in order to return a 120 mph serve? Does time stop sometimes and go faster at others? Space, time and motion have played a fundamental role in extending the foundations of 19th and 20th century physics. Key breakthroughs resulted from scientists who focused not just on measurements based on rulers and clocks, but also on the role of the observer. Research targeted on the observer's capabilities and limitations raises a promising new approach that is likely to forward our understanding of neuroscience and psychophysics. Space and Time in Perception and Action brings together theory and empirical findings from world-class experts and is written for advanced students and neuroscientists with a particular interest in the psychophysics of space, time and motion..