Navigation path


   Success Stories

Published: 25 June 2014  
Related category(ies):
Information society  |  Video reports  |  Health & life sciences


Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Finland  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Hungary  |  Italy  |  Netherlands  |  Spain  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

Beyond the subconscious

We are only aware of about 10% of our brain activity, so scientists at a lab in Barcelona are working to increase that percentage. They hope to enable us to perform better in a world which is increasingly overwhelmed by data.

Photo of Solar panels
Video in QuickTime format:  ar  de  el  en  es  fa  fr  hu  it  pt  ru  tr  uk  (14.7 MB)

Collecting data is easy. The difficult part is making sense of it. Drowning in floods of data, humans often can’t find meaning in complex databases. So these researchers are working with sophisticated virtual reality tools to help.

Jonathan Freeman, a psychologist and the project coordinator of the CEEDs (Collective Experience of Empathic Data Systems) project, said:

“What the science shows is that a lot of that background processing that we are not paying attention to can leak useful information about the environment. So it can identify whether there are areas of interest, whether there are threats, whether there is potentially something exciting that you have not spotted.

“You can use touch and vision and hearing to sense the environment and to make sense of the world around you,” he added. “So what we are trying to do is to make additional sense out of the subconscious processing that humans do. That gives people an extra power, an extra ability to understand meaning in big datasets.”

Scientists involved in this European Union research project hope to help us become smarter and more efficient by listening to and stimulating our subconscious so it can mobilize the power of our own creativity. And to do that, they are using complex technology.

According to Pedro Omedas, a computer scientist at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra:

“We are integrating virtual reality and mixed reality platforms to allow us to screen information in an immersive way. We also have systems to help us extract information from these platforms. We use tracking systems to understand how a person moves within a given space. We also have various physiological sensors (heart rate, breathing etc.) that capture signals produced by the user – both conscious and subconscious. Our main challenge is how to integrate all this information coherently.”

Anna Mura is a neuroscientist at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

“The system allows us to upgrade subconscious processes to make them conscious,” she said. “This can help us assimilate information in complex databases – information that would be impossible to decipher without that extra help.”

Researchers are also using robot technology.

Paul Verschure also works as a psychologist at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

“The brain is not a computer, simply controlling an external device,” he said. “The brain is tightly coupled to the body. And both brain and body are mutually constraining in what they do. So therefore, to understand the brain, we have to put it in the context of a body.”

The body he means is a robotic one: “To understand the brain, we need to embody it in a robot. This is the next step in this exploration of how the brain works, in the end, to understand the physical foundations of consciousness.”

It’s a step forwards in the research for a new scientific instrument to help us make sense of big data.

Project details

  • Project acronym:CEEDS
  • Participants:UK (Coordinator), Italy, Germany, Finland, Spain, France, Greece, Netherlands, Hungary
  • FP7 Project N° 258749
  • Total costs: €8 627 550
  • EU contribution: €6 499 982
  • Duration:September 2010 - August 2014

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


Search articles

To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

Project web site

Project information on CORDIS

Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center