Christof is a neurophysiologist and computational neuroscientist best known for his work on the neural basis of consciousness on which he worked with Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick for 24 years. He is the president and chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. Having originally trained as a physicist, from 1986 until 2013, he was a Professor of Biology and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Southern California.
Christof describes his passion in life as "to understand how I came to be in this wonderful, mysterious universe. Not so much me, personally, but me as a conscious, experiencing thing surrounding by other conscious organisms and trees, stars, and the sea." Over the last decade, he has worked closely with the psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi. Together they advocate for an Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness - often seen as a modern version of panpsychism that only ascribes consciousness to entities with some degree of irreducible cause-effect power.
Christof is the author of the books Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. , The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach, and Biophysics of Computation: Information Processing in Single Neurons. His forthcoming book, Then I am Myself the World, is due out in 2024.
Christof has a sentiocentric moral scope saying that "For the sake of animals, I’m a vegetarian." Hopefully, as a result of our conversation, he will now be considering veganism. Having been raised Roman Catholic he now has a non-religious, naturalistic worldview.