Dubito ergo cogito ergo sum

“I think therefore I am” (cogito ergo sum). Everyone knows these words by Descartes. His method was based on reasoning and doubting. Doubt came first. We can rephrase it as “I doubt therefore I think therefore I am” (dubito ergo cogito ergo sum). We borrow this as a motto for our lab. Doubt comes first, as a scientific method and as subject for investigation. We wonder and inquire about perception and decision making in complex or ambiguous situations. We study doubt with doubt. So there can be only one name for our lab: Dubito.

Decision making?
A core question for cognitive science

One of the primary goals of cognitive science is to develop linking propositions between perception and action. Confronted with multiple sources of information, we have to choose one of several alternative courses of action. This process is called “decision making.”

To study the cognitive and neural mechanisms for decision making, we use a multidisciplinary approach, including behavioral analysis, conceptual and computational modeling, physiology and neural imaging. In behavioral and physiological experiments we aim to characterize the cognitive processes of bias, sensitivity, conflict, and updating. In neural imaging and computational modeling, we investigate how these cognitive processes are brought about in the brain.

Approach and objectives 

  • We study "The Doubt Function" in all its guises: How uncertainty and volatility influence perception, attention, emotion, motivation, learning, memory, and decision making.
  • Our focus on the doubt function proceeds from a basic science perspective (cognitive science) and from an applied science perspective (bioethics, tending toward empirical bioethics).
  • We aim to improve the bioethical reasoning and praxis with respect to the use of animals in research: Toward a scientifically and ethically motivated approach to reevaluating, revising and optimizing the use of animal models.
  • We integrate cross-disciplinary perspectives in Psychology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Arts and Letters, particularly with a view to making cognitive neuroscience relevant to the humanities. In the parlance of C.P. Snow, we move back and forth between "the two cultures," working toward their mutual enrichment.

The Dubito Lab