Dr Stephen Fleming (2003, PPP), Sir Henry Dale Wellcome/Royal Society Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging at UCL, was recently awarded the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal for his research on how the brain becomes self-aware.
Dr Fleming discussed how he found his passion, “In my final year of studying PPP at Univ I took an advanced option with my College Tutor Paul Azzopardi. Paul ran a short, intensive course explaining how it was possible to combine mathematical models of how people performed in laboratory experiments with the study of human consciousness. I found this extremely exciting – here was a way of retaining the rigour of science while bringing mysterious topics such as self-reflection and consciousness into the lab. At the time, however, many of these ideas remained only theoretical possibilities.”
Following his time at Univ, Dr Fleming completed a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London under the supervision of Ray Dolan and Chris Frith, investigating awareness in perceptual decision-making. In 2011, he was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to study with Nathaniel Daw at New York University, where he built mathematical models of self-awareness for four years.
He now runs one of the first neuroscience labs dedicated to the study of metacognition and consciousness, at University College London. Dr Fleming said of his work there, “There are exciting questions about the fundamentals of human metacognition that we are now able to tackle with rigorous experimental psychology – and combining this with brain imaging gives us a unique opportunity to unravel some of the puzzles concerning the neural basis of human awareness and reflective thought.”
Published: 19 June 2019