Michael Graziano

Michael Graziano
Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
281 Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Ph.D., Princeton University
PDF icon Curriculum Vitæ (260.71 KB)

My lab currently focuses on the brain basis of consciousness. Brains arrive at the conclusion that they have an internal, subjective experience of things — an experience that is non-physical and inexplicable. How can such a thing be studied scientifically? When an information-processing device such as the brain introspects, or accesses internal data, and on that basis arrives at the conclusion that it has a magic property inside of it, the first question for a scientist is probably not: how did that device produce magic? Or even: what is the magic? Such questions are probably not coherent. Instead, in my lab we are asking: how does a brain arrive at that kind of self-description? What is the adaptive advantage of that style of self-description? What systems in the brain compute that information? What happens when those systems are damaged? When and how did they evolve? All of these questions are scientifically approachable. My lab is currently testing a specific, mechanistic theory of awareness described in my recent book, Consciousness and the Social Brain.

Representative Publications

Graziano, M. S. A. (2019).  Attributing awareness to others: The attention schema theory and its relationship to behavioral predictionJournal of Consciousness Studies, 26 (3-4), 17-37.

Guterstam, A., Kean, H. H., Webb, T. W., Kean, F. S., & Graziano, M. S. A. (2019).  Implicit model of other people's visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U. S. A. , 116 (1), 328-333.


Webb, T. W., & Graziano, M. S. A. (2015).  The attention schema theory: a mechanistic account of subjective awarenessFrontiers in Psychology , 6

Kelly, Y. T., Webb, T. W., Meier, J. D., Arcaro, M. J., & Graziano, M. S. A. (2014).  Attributing awareness to oneself and to othersProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U. S. A. , 111 (13), 5012-5017. 

Graziano, M. S. A., & Kastner, S. (2011).  Human consciousness and its relationship to social neuroscience: A novel hypothesisCognitive Neuroscience , 2 (2), 98-113.