jorge morales

I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology & Philosophy at Northeastern University. I am also the Director of the Subjectivity Lab, where I lead an exciting research group of PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and undergraduate students. Together with collaborators from across the globe (US, UK, Japan, Beligium), we aim to understand how the mind creates our visual world—what we see, what we don't see, and what we imagine. Our team uses behavioral, neuroimaging and theoretical tools to understand how the brain supports visual experiences and how we introspect them.

Before coming to Northeastern, I was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Before that, I obtained a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia University. During that time, I simultaneously trained as a psychologist and neuroscientist doing experimental work on psychophysics and neuroimaging (fMRI). I was born and raised in Mexico City where I obtained a BA and a Master's in philosophy with a focus on cognitive science.

When not doing philosophy or science, I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter, and also walking around with my camera.


The goal of my research program is to understand the subjective character of the mind and to improve how we study it scientifically. To this end, our lab has three complementary lines of research in which we integrate different topics—consciousness, perception, mental imagery and metacognition—using different methodological approaches—psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.

(1) We study what we "see". To do this, we use vision science as a tool to make progress in questions that have proved resistant to philosophical analysis. Our work on the philosophy of perception and vision science focuses on the subjective features that imbue our perceptual states—let these be themselves perceptual (e.g., 3D shape, visual perspective and attention), cognitive (e.g., Bayesian updating), or not even really there (e.g., absences and mental imagery).

(2) We study how we know what we experience. Our goal is to understand metacognitive and introspective mechanisms as well as their psychological, epistemic, computational and neural features. For example, we focus on calibrating introspection's reliability and how to model the decision-making and neural processes that support metacognition. Whether it's memory, perception, or fake news, we computationally model how good people are at knowing what they know.

(3) We study what makes our experiences conscious. Our research develops theoretical tools for a successful science of subjectivity that can discover the neural underpinnings of subjective confidence and conscious awareness. An international, multi-lab project currently underway aims at discovering the neural basis of the intensity of conscious experiences using advanced methods in fMRI and machine learning.

Asking fundamental questions about the subjective character of the mind invites us, and in fact forces us, to branch out into other areas within science (e.g., memory, decision-making, emotions, pain, developmental and social psychology) and within philosophy (e.g., general philosophy of science, epistemology, and moral philosophy, broadly construed: from the neural basis of voluntary action and ethical challenges posed by novel neuroimaging technologies to how well people think they are at detecting misinformation). This also forces us into adopting new technologies into our toolkit: from pupillometry to machine learning and virtual reality.



book chapters

art & media

London-based artist Cathryn Shilling took the stimuli and fMRI images from our Journal of Neuroscience metacognition paper and created a splendid art installation called Metacognition in Glass.

“Embedding the experimental materials in glass embodies the notion that the brain’s machinery for self-reflection provides us with a distant, sometimes opaque view of ourselves.”

Profiles, long-format interviews, public lectures and expert opinion in the popular media:

Selection of newspapers, magazines, news websites, podcasts and blogs featuring my work:

jorge morales

northeastern university
360 huntington ave
ni 125
boston, ma 02115