Manuela Kirberg

I have an interdisciplinary academic background combining anthropology, philosophy and cognitive science. Currently, I am developing a philosophically informed method for the experimental investigation of phenomenal consciousness in dreaming and waking wandering minds, with a cross-cultural perspective.

My research seeks to overcome the long tradition in dream research to describe and conceptualize dreaming as a cognitively deficient simulation process by the sleeping mind.   To begin with, I will consider fine-grained phenomenology of spontaneous experiences across the sleep-wake-cycle to gain insight into their various dimensions and features. This will illuminate similarities and differences between consciousness experience in sleep and wakefulness. The PhD project reframes dreaming as part of a continuum of spontaneous conscious states. Specifically, my research reconsiders the phenomenon of dream bizarreness and extending empirical bizarreness research into this continuum as one dimension along which conscious states may differ. In this way, the comparison between dreaming and mind wandering could lead to a new and non-deficient perspective on the dreaming brain.