Berit Brogaard

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Berit Oskar Brogaard
Berit Brogaard.jpg
Born 28 August 1970
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
Philosophy of mind
Cognitive neuroscience
Philosophy of language
Notable ideas
Synesthesia as a gateway to hidden areas of the brain; left-brain activation during visual memory; perceptual reports; primitive color properties; dynamic two-dimensional semantics

Berit Oskar Brogaard (1970) is a Danish and American philosopher specializing in the areas of cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Her recent work concerns synesthesia, savant syndrome, blindsight and perceptual reports. She is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and runs a perception lab at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.[1][2] She is the President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association.[3][4] Brogaard is also a Danish-language poet.[5]


Brogaard was born and raised in Copenhagen, and since 2012 has directed a synesthesia lab at the University of Miami.[1][6] From an early age, she excelled at physics, mathematics, and biology, eventually completing her undergraduate education at the University of Copenhagen with a Bachelor's degree in linguistics and philosophy. She then studied neuroscience under the direction of Thue Schwartz, M.D., D.M.Sci. at University of Copenhagen and the Danish National Hospital.[7]

Upon completion of her degrees in Copenhagen she studied linguistics and philosophy at State University of New York at Buffalo, where she obtained her PhD. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Consciousness and the Philosophy Program directed by David Chalmers at Australian National University from 2007 to 2009,[8] and her first tenure-track position was at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, from 2001 to 2005.[9] She was subsequently appointed Associate Professor of Philosophy (2008–2012) and Professor of Philosophy (2012–2014) at University of Missouri, St. Louis. She now works at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida (2014–present).[1]

Since 2009 Brogaard has worked as a freelance writer for many popular media outlets, including Psychology Today,[10] Hello Magazine and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since then she has written about 300 popular articles on brain intervention and emotional regulation.[11] She has also co-authored a breakup program with counselor and relationship expert Catherine Behan entitled The Breakup Cleanse.[12]

Her academic and popular work has been featured in, among other places, A Report of the President's council on bioethics - Washington D.C. 2004,[13] Danish National Radio,[14] the Modesto Bee,[15] UMSL newsroom,[16][17][18] MostMost,[19] Attract Your Soul Mate Now,[20] Nightline,[21] NPR,[22] Popular Science,[23] Science Omega,[24] the Huffington Post,[25] and ABC News.[21]


Cognitive neuroscience[edit]

In the area of cognitive neuroscience Brogaard is best known for her work on synesthesia and savant syndrome.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33] Her team, which consists of colleagues from the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research,[34] and the Visual Awareness and Cognition Group, Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science, Finland[35] just completed a series of studies on Jason Padgett,[36] who has acquired savant syndrome and acquired synesthesia. Jason Padgett was mugged in 2002.[37] He was hit on his head and developed a form of synesthesia and savant syndrome.[37] Certain objects and mathematical formulas trigger synesthetic mathematical fractals in him.[37] He is the first to hand-draw mathematical fractals, an ability he acquired after the incident.[37][38][39]

In a series of functional MRI studies in Finland, Brogaard's team found uni-lateral left-side activity in the parietal and frontal areas when Padgett is exposed to well-formed mathematical formulas that give rise to synesthetic fractals in him and bi-lateral activation when he is exposed to nonsense formulas or formulas that don't give rise to synesthetic fractals.

They re-tested the results from the Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) using Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). In the TMS study, Padgett was shown formulas and asked to rate his synesthetic sensation on a scale 1-10, relative to his "baseline" percept (i.e. without TMS). They applied TMS over the brain areas that were activated in the fMRI scan with the formulas that give rise to synesthetic experiences and found the TMS modulated two central areas.

The results establish for the first time that synesthetic imagery may be generated in areas of the brain not normally used for the creation of visual imagery.[40] Jason Padgett has since then published an autobiography with Maureen Seaberg.[41] The book is being turned into a major Hollywood movie, starring Channing Tatum.[42]

Brogaard's lab has also studied the cognitive mechanisms underlying grapheme-color synesthesia, one of the most common forms of synesthesia.[43] Using a novel visual search paradigm to examine whether synesthetic colors guide the subject’s attention to the location of the target they found that synesthetic experience requires selective attention to occur. In light of this they propose a new long term potentiation model for grapheme-color projector synesthesia.

Brogaard has also contributed to the topic of whether there are unconscious perceptual processes, arguing that cases of blindsight and visual for action involve unconscious perceptual processes.[44][45]

Philosophy of mind[edit]

In the area of philosophy of mind, Brogaard is the first to provide a thorough analysis of perceptual words such as 'look', 'sound', 'feel', 'taste', 'smell', 'seem', 'appear', 'see' and 'hear'.[46] She argues that perceptual reports containing these words reflect the content of perception.[47][48]

Brogaard is also the first researcher to show that consciousness comes in degrees and that there can be borderline cases of consciousness.[49] Imagine a case where we slowly destroy the primary visual cortex of a subject, one neuron at a time in an arbitrary fashion. Plausibly such an individual would proceed slowly from perceiving her surroundings normally to perceiving them unconsciously. In this process, the brightness of the perceived content would gradually decrease until a point at which it would be unclear whether the perception counted as weakly conscious.

Or consider George Sperling's classic experiment in which a 3 x 3 array of letters was briefly flashed to the test subjects. Most subjects said that they were aware of all the letters, even though they could report only about half of them. To test whether the subjects were right, Sperling used a tone after the presentation of the stimulus to signal which row the subjects should report (high tone = top row, medium tone = middle row and low tone = the bottom row). The subjects were able to name the letters in the indicated row but they were unable to report any other numbers. The fact that the subjects were able to report any signaled row indicates that they were phenomenally conscious of all the rows but did not have access consciousness to all of them. But suppose we were to flash a 4 x 4 array of letters, then a 5 x 5 array of letters, then 6 x 6 array of letters, and so on, to subjects in an experiment. In that case, it would naturally become harder and harder for them to report the rows as the array became increasingly more complicated. There would, however, be no precise cut-off at which the subjects would go from being weakly conscious to not being weakly conscious of all the rows.

Philosophy of language[edit]

Brogaard is also a well known contributor to the philosophy of language. Brogaard's book, Transient Truths provides the first book-length exposition and defense of temporalism,[50][51] the view that contents can change their truth-values along with changes in the world. Brogaard argues that temporal contents are contents and propositions in the full sense. This project involves a thorough analysis of how we talk about and retain mental states over time, an examination of how the phenomenology of mental states bear on the content of mental states, an analysis of how we pass on information in temporally extended conversations, and a revival of a Priorian tense logic. The view suggests a broader view according to which some types of representation have a determinate truth-value only relative to features about the subject who does the representing. If this view is right, successful semantic representation requires an eye on our own position in the world. Brogaard has also offered well known philosophical accounts of moral permissibility,[13][52][53][54][55][56][57][58] anti-realism,[59][60][61] and knowledge-how.[62]

Brogaard is furthermore the first to develop a dynamic two-dimensional semantics that can account for cognitive significance in a dynamic setting.[63]

Philosophical Gourmet Report[edit]

She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR), which she now co-edits.[64] Following disputes between Brian Leiter, then editor of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, and other philosophers in which Leiter engaged in caustic rhetoric and threatened to sue a colleague, 600 philosophers, including 30 members of his 54-member Advisory Board, asked that he step down as editor of the PCG.[65][66] Hundreds of philosophers signed a statement saying that they would not complete the PGR's surveys that inform the publication’s rankings, or otherwise assist in assembling the rankings, as long as Leiter was still its editor.[65][66] As an interim measure, Leiter appointed Brogaard a co-editor for the 2014 report. He agreed to step down as editor after its publication.[66] The publication’s Advisory Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move.[66] After he steps down as editor, Brogaard will become the editor.[66]


Brogaard is the President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association.[67]

She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today with Co-Investigator Kristian Marlow.[68][69]

She is on the Governing Board for Gender Studies at University of Missouri, St. Louis.[70]

On her website Lovesick Love,[71] Brogaard offers advice focusing on relationships breakups.

She is also the American editor of the academic journal Erkenntnis[72] and the philosophy of language editor for David Chalmers and David Bourget's PhilPapers.[73] She also serves on the editorial boards of Brain and Mind, Springer Book Series, ed. Gualtiero Piccinini,[74] Journal of Mathematics and The Open Applied Linguistics Journal, and she is a former Ph.D. program evaluator.


  1. ^ a b c Curriculum Vitae - Berit Brogaard
  2. ^ Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Perception
  3. ^ 1 scholar to lead philosophy, psychology society; another nabs Princeton fellowship, UMSL Daily
  4. ^ Central States Philosophical Association
  5. ^ International Who's Who in Poetry 2005 Europa Publications, - Page 218 "BROGAARD-PEDERSEN,. Berit. Oskar. ; PhD Researcher, Writer and Poet; b. 28 Aug. 1970, Copenhagen, Denmark. ... Publications: Danskere til Salg, 1991; Livet I lysthuset, 1992; Solnedgangens Orange Born, 1994; Handen der fandt ud af ..."
  6. ^ Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research
  7. ^ New APPS Interview
  8. ^ Centre for Consciousness at ANU People
  9. ^ Southern Illinois University
  10. ^ Psychology Today
  11. ^ Mainstream
  12. ^ The Breakup Cleanse
  13. ^ a b A Report of the President's council on bioethics - Washington D.C. 2004
  14. ^ Videnskabens Verden - Tæsk gav overnaturlige evner
  15. ^ the Modesto Bee
  16. ^ finds what people think about luck UMSL Newsroom
  17. ^ UMSL Daily
  18. ^ Seeing letters as colors: UMSL professor studies synesthesia, UMSL Newsroom
  19. ^ MostMost - 10 Relationship Rules You Should Break
  20. ^ Attract Your Soul Mate Now
  21. ^ a b "Real ‘Beautiful Mind’: College Dropout Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging (PHOTOS)". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "When Brain Damage Unlocks The Genius Within". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Synaesthesia and savant syndrome: are we all superhuman?". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Mosbergen, Dominique (30 April 2012). "College Dropout Jason Padgett Becomes Accidental Mathematical Genius After Brutal Mugging". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Case Study of Accidental Genius". Danish National Public Radio. 
  27. ^ "Man Becomes Genius After Head Injury". ABC Nightline. 2012-04-27. 
  28. ^ Karlinsky, Neal (2012-04-27). "Real ‘Beautiful Mind’: College Dropout Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging". ABC News. 
  29. ^ Mosbergen, Dominique (2012-04-30). "College Dropout Jason Padgett Becomes Accidental Mathematical Genius After Brutal Mugging". Huffington Post. 
  30. ^ Edgington, Katy (2 November 2012). "Synaesthesia and savant syndrome: are we all superhuman?". Science Omega. 
  31. ^ Marsh, Don (4 February 2013). "Seeing Sounds, Hearing Colors: UMSL Professor Researches Rare Condition". NPR. 
  32. ^ Piore, Adam (2013-02-19). "When Brain Damage Unlocks The Genius Within". Popular Science. 
  33. ^ Fractals and the Mind, Explorations September 2012
  34. ^ Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research
  35. ^ Vision Systems Neuroscience
  36. ^ "Struck By Genius". 
  37. ^ a b c d Lewis, Tanya (6 May 2014). "A Brain Injury Turned A Regular Guy Into A Mathematical Genius". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  38. ^ Jason Padgett
  39. ^ How to Make a Fractal by Jason Padgett
  40. ^ Oxford Journals - Mental Visual Synthesis is Originated in the Fronto-temporal Network of the Left Hemisphere
  41. ^
  42. ^ Boris Kit (2014-09-17). "Channing Tatum Tackling 'Struck by Genius' Adaptation (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015. 
  43. ^ Bennet D and Hill C, ed. (2013). The LTP Model for Grapheme-Color Binding in Synesthesia. In: Sensory Integration and the Unity of Consciousness. MIT Press. 
  44. ^ Overgaard, Morten; Grünbaum, Thor (1 December 2011). "Consciousness and modality: On the possible preserved visual consciousness in blindsight subjects". Consciousness and Cognition 20 (4): 1855–1859. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.016. 
  45. ^ Brogaard, Berit (9 Jan 2012). "Non-visual consciousness and visual images in blindsight". Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1): 595–596. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.12.003. 
  46. ^ Google docs - Perceptual Reports
  47. ^ Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy
  48. ^ Deroy, Ophelia (2013). Brown R, ed. Synesthesia: An experience of the third kind?. In: Consciousness Inside and Out: Phenomenology, Neuroscience, and the Nature of Experience. Springer. 
  49. ^ Google docs - Degrees of Consciousness
  50. ^ Ulrich Meyer, Colgate University, Review of Transient Truths
  51. ^ Pacific Division of the APA (2013). "Author-Meets-Critics: Brit Brogaard, Transient Truths: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Propositions". 
  52. ^ Brogaard, Berit (1 July 2008). "MORAL CONTEXTUALISM AND MORAL RELATIVISM". The Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232): 385–409. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2007.543.x. 
  53. ^ Binderup, Lars (1 July 2008). "BROGAARD'S MORAL CONTEXTUALISM". The Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232): 410–415. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2007.544.x. 
  54. ^ Damschen, G; Gómez-Lobo, A; Schönecker, D (April 2006). "Sixteen days? A reply to B. Smith and B. Brogaard on the beginning of human individuals.". The Journal of medicine and philosophy 31 (2): 165–75. doi:10.1080/03605310600588707. PMID 16595346. 
  55. ^ Björnsson, Gunnar; Finlay, Stephen (1 October 2010). "Metaethical Contextualism Defended*". Ethics 121 (1): 7–36. doi:10.1086/656304. 
  56. ^ Francén, Ragnar. "No deep disagreement for new relativists". Philosophical Studies 151 (1): 19–37. doi:10.1007/s11098-009-9414-6. 
  57. ^ Jenkins, C.S.; Nolan, Daniel (1 September 2010). "Maximising, Satisficing and Context*". Noûs 44 (3): 451–468. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00750.x. 
  58. ^ Baker, Carl. "Indexical contextualism and the challenges from disagreement". Philosophical Studies 157 (1): 107–123. doi:10.1007/s11098-010-9621-1. 
  59. ^ Moretti, Luca. "Brogaard and Salerno on antirealism and the conditional fallacy". Philosophical Studies 140 (2): 229–246. doi:10.1007/s11098-007-9139-3. 
  60. ^ Rosenkranz, S. (1 January 2004). "Fitch back in action again?". Analysis 64 (1): 67–71. doi:10.1093/analys/64.1.67. 
  61. ^ Rosenkranz, Sven (1 March 2008). "Knowability, Closure, and Anti-Realism". Dialectica 62 (1): 59–75. doi:10.1111/j.1746-8361.2007.01129.x. 
  62. ^ SCHAFFER, JONATHAN (1 March 2009). "Knowing the Answer Redux: Replies to Brogaard and Kallestrup". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2): 477–500. doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2009.00252.x. 
  63. ^ Context and Content: Pragmatics in Two-Dimensional Semantics, Keith Allan and Kasia Jaszczolt, eds. Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics, 2010
  64. ^ The Philosophical Gourmet Report
  65. ^ a b Schmidt, Peter (September 26, 2014). "The Man Who Ranks Philosophy Departments Now Rankles Them, Too". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014. .
  66. ^ a b c d e Andy Thomason (October 10, 2014). "Controversial Philosopher Will Step Down as Editor of Influential Rankings". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 
  67. ^ Central States Philosophical Association
  68. ^ Psychology Today
  69. ^ Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference and Social Science
  70. ^ Gender Studies, University of Missouri, St. Louis
  71. ^ Lovesick Love
  72. ^ Erkenntnis
  73. ^ PhilPapers - Philosophy of Language
  74. ^ Studies in Brain and Mind Springer Book Series


A partial list of publications by Brogaard:

External links[edit]