What do I study?
I call it ‘high performance cognition’. Study of higher cognition covers a multitude, so my work is a mix of methods, and basic and applied science.

Basic science: I aim to develop a theory of High Performance Cognition (HPC). HPC arises when a highly demanding dynamic cognitive task is performed with high skill, and is hypothesized to be due to tuning of attention. It generates subjective experience of Flow, and is a component of learning to perform to expert/optimal level.

Applied science: A key tenet of HPC is that it arises through learning of a demanding dynamic task. I have worked on projects studying skill learning in a range of tasks, including games, programming, and neurofeedback.

Methods: Being interested in a multi-modal picture of human cognition, I have worked to develop methods for measurement of behaviour (data mining), psychophysiology, and brain imaging (EEG).

See my projects (past, ongoing, & upcoming)

About me.

Docent (adjunct professor) of cognitive neuroscience and PI of the HiPerCog lab, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki.

Obtained a Bachelors in Information and Communications Technology from Trinity College Dublin in 2003, and defended my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, in 2009. Postdoctoral positions at Helsinki School of Economics and Aalto University, Helsinki (2009–2012); habilitation at the University of Helsinki (2012–2013); later, Specialist Researcher at Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (2014–2017). In 2015, I obtained the title of Docent from the Cognitive Science unit, University of Helsinki, and remain affiliated there while also leading my group at the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Memorable moments include: coordinating Finland’s first clinical trial on neurofeedback therapy for attentional disorder; publishing a mini-handbook on psychophysiological methods; going fact-finding for an as-yet-unrealised dream project on neuro-anthropology in Colombia.


ben.cowley [at]

Also see my social media feeds, linked below.