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Axel Cleeremans


  • Fellow
  • Brain, Mind & Consciousness




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.

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