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Michael Graziano

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Princeton University; Novelist

Michael Steven Anthony Graziano is an American scientist and novelist who is currently a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness.

Graziano was born in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1967 and spent his childhood in Buffalo, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University in 1989 in Psychology. He attended graduate school in neuroscience at MIT from 1989 to 1991 and then returned to Princeton University to complete his doctoral degree in 1996, in Neuroscience and Psychology. He remained at Princeton University as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a professor of neuroscience and psychology.

Graziano’s scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness. He has proposed the “attention schema” theory, an explanation of how, and for what adaptive advantage, brains attribute the property of awareness to themselves. His previous work focused on how the cerebral cortex monitors the space around the body and controls movement within that space. Notably he has suggested that the classical map of the body in motor cortex, the homunculus, is not correct and is better described as a map of complex actions that make up the behavioral repertoire. His publications on this topic have had a widespread impact among neuroscientists but have also generated controversy. His novels rely partly on his background in psychology and are known for surrealism or magic realism.

Topic Series


God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World (LeapSci)

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The Divine Farce (LeapLit)

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Consciousness and the Social Brain

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