Chris Fields Research
Caunes Minervois, France
Mesilla, NM, USA
What is observation?
What does it mean to get some information by observing something? We open our eyes and instantly get new information about what's going on around us. How? What happens when we open our eyes? What about us changes when we get new information? Photons hit our eyes, rhodopsin molecules are activated, neurons fire ... but where's the information? And what makes it about something?
What is memory?
What does it mean to record some information somewhere and then be able to find it later? When you find something in memory, how do you know it's the same information you recorded? Could you tell if it's changed? What are the reference frames we use to tell that something is a memory, not a current percept?
What are objects?
We see the world as made up of more-or-less separate things that we can manipulate individually. How does that work? What's going on when an infant figures out that the moving thing she's watching is her own hand? Suppose you pick up a coffee cup. What else happens in the world as a result? How would you go about finding out?
What is time? What is space? What is causation?
These are traditionally regarded as philosophical questions, but they have practical importance in physics, computer science, biology, cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychology. Time, space and causation all involve boundaries, so these questions revolve around the single question: "what is a boundary?" All of my work, including my investigation of the boundaries of scientific disciplines, attempts to understand how observers draw boundaries and what the consequences of this boundary-drawing are. I mainly work on these questions from the perspectives of physics (some background on the physics of boundaries), cognitive neuroscience (some background on the cognitive neuroscience of boundaries), and developmental biology. I've also explored this question of boundaries using visual art.