Joel Pearson is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of New South Wales [UNSW], a National Health and Medical Research Council fellow and founder of UNSW Future Minds Lab, MindX and Agile Science. An internationally recognized leader in human consciousness research and applied cognitive neuroscience, Pearson began studying art and film–making in Sydney at College of Fine Arts COFA (now UNSW Art and Design) before deciding to apply learned creative discovery techniques to the scientific mysteries of human consciousness and the complexities of the brain. He completed his science PhD over two years while travelling and speaking at conferences and lecturing at Universities internationally.
Celebrating a decade in 2019, UNSW Future Minds Lab is a global first, hands on, human–centered research lab/agency exploring the Psychology and Neuroscience of design, innovation and entrepreneurship, cognitive optimization and the future of work and education. UNSW Future Minds Lab is creating products and services from its discoveries to deepen our collective understanding and build a better world. Joel takes an agile, multidisciplinary approach with UNSW Future Minds Lab, selecting staff and students from art, architecture, mathematics, computer science, psychology, neuroscience and medicine.
UNSW Future Minds Lab studies diverse and cutting-edge topics, from new methods to map the human brain, treating mental illness, how to boost the human imagination and decision-making, to cognitive biases in financial risk assessment.
MindX is a consultancy, born out of UNSW Future Minds Lab, working with brands including Google, Macquarie Bank, Lexus, PIXAR, M&C Saatchi, The &Partnership, NSW Department of Education and Samsung, that gathers objective data on the ways in which people’s minds work to inform creative outcomes and business development through practical application. Pearson and his teams take an innovative, agile, first principles approach in developing new methods to measure dimensions of human experience previously thought to be immeasurable – including creativity, imagination, intuition, decision-making, memory, metacognition, visual perception, learning, attention, awareness innovation, entrepreneurship and hallucinations – using objective, reliable, neuroscientific methods. This work spans from fundamental science to helping individuals in clinic – translational cognitive neuroscience.
Recognizing that the most exciting and surprising scientific discoveries of the 21st century will likely involve a high number of accidental breakthroughs and large amounts of rapid iterative pilot testing. Pearson is a passionate proponent of high-risk discovery science and has developed a method called agile science, a practical guide to both practicing and reporting scientific discoveries – the ‘Lean Startup’ for science. In 2009 Joel received the William James Award for the greatest scientific contribution to understanding consciousness.
A prolific writer and public speaker, Pearson works at the intersection of art, science and innovation.