He took his doctor's degree at the Uppsala University in 1977. He worked as a researcher there from 1980, and in 1984 he was appointed professor at the University of Bergen. His main research interests are brain asymmetry and dichotic listening, cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia, and neurobiology of auditory hallucinations. He has published over 300 articles in international peer reviewed journals, including in high impact factor journals, such as Brain (journal)  and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and various books, among them Psychophysiology: The Mind-Body Perspective (1995), Experimental Methods in Neuropsychology (2002) and The Asymmetrical Brain (2002) (together with Prof. Richard Davidson). He also edited the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology from 1990 to 2004.
He was a member of the Research Council of Norway from 1988 to 1989, and of the MacArthur Foundation from 1990 to 2000. He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He is currently the Head of the Bergen fMRI Group which initiated use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in neuroscience in Norway and the Nordic countries in the 1990s.
- Thomsen T, Rimol LM, Ersland L, Hugdahl K (2004). "Dichotic listening reveals functional specificity in prefrontal cortex: an fMRI study". NeuroImage. 21 (1): 211–218. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2003.08.039. PMID 14741658.
- Brandt CL, Doan NT, Tønnesen S, Agartz I, Hugdahl K, Melle I, Andreassen OA, Westlye LT (2015). "Assessing brain structural associations with working-memory related brain patterns in schizophrenia and healthy controls using linked independent component analysis". NeuroImage Clin. 9: 253–263. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2015.08.010. PMC . PMID 26509112.
- Mørch-Johnsen L, Nesvåg R, Jørgensen KN, Lange EH, Hartberg CB, Haukvik UK, Kompus K, Westerhausen R, Osnes K, Andreassen OA, Melle I, Hugdahl K, Agartz I (2017). "Auditory cortex characteristics in schizophrenia: associations with auditory hallucinations". Schizophr Bull. 43 (1): 75–83. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbw130. PMID 27605526.
- Clark KA, Helland T, Specht K, Narr KL, Manis FR, Toga AW, Hugdahl K (2014). "Neuroanatomical precursors of dyslexia identified from pre-reading through to age 11". Brain. 137 (12): 3136–3141. doi:10.1093/brain/awu229. PMC . PMID 25125610.
- Cappelen AW, Eichele T, Hugdahl K, Specht K, Sørensen E, Tungodden B (2014). "Equity theory and fair inequality: a neuroeconomic study". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111 (43): 15368–15372. doi:10.1073/pnas.1414602111. PMC . PMID 25313056.
- Hugdahl K (1995). Psychophysiology: The Mind-Body Perspective. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674722078
- Hugdahl K (2002). Experimental Methods in Neuropsychology. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 1402072104
- Hugdahl K, Davidson RJ (2002). The Asymmetrical Brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT press. ISBN 0262083094
- Knut Olav Åmås, ed. (2008). Hvem er hvem?. Oslo: Aschehoug. p. 251. ISBN 978-82-03-23561-0.
- "Gruppe 7: Medisinske fag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
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