Frequently Asked Questions
Neuroscience is the study of the brain and the central nervous system. It is a multidisciplinary branch of biology, that deals with the anatomy, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology of neurons and neural circuits. It also draws upon other fields, with the most obvious being pharmacology, psychology, and medicine.
Our focus and specialism is on Cognitive Neuroscience; the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes.
Cognitive Neuroscience offers a methodical and practical lens through which we can understand how people perceive their environments and function in response; biologically, physiologically and cognitively.
We believe it to be the most effective tool to create a UX toolkit for the built envrionment. UX (User Experience) is defined as the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. User experience design addresses all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users. We simply apply this framework informed by neuroscience to the built environment.
How is it applied?
In 2016 we won a highly competitive grant to work with leading neuroscientists from University College London to solve the problem that has been plaguing the science for decades - translation, frameworks and guidelines. Throughout 2017 we developed this and now have formats of work to offer clients.
Our focus is on people, not spaces alone, we are not neuro-architecture or neuro-aesthetics, we focus on the neuroscience of people and their responses to environments.
Isn’t this already done by architects?
Whilst architects are well known for their study of the mind, we relate ourselves more to industrial engineers.
Where industrial engineers studied physical work processes to understand how to augment comforts to support production. Our focus is on the cognitive processes required to support task completion.
We use our framework to determine where risks may occur through poor orchsetration of physical elements and a mitigation schedule of recommendations from existing standards and guidelines. The outputs help inform the wider business programming of the service, cultural and design associated with the space, place or environment.
What level of psychology is involved?
Pscyhology is a useful tool for understanding macro top-down influencers affecting perception. It forms part of our framework but works in tandem only to our neuroscience research and findings.
How universal/bespoke is the work you provide?
We focus on Cognitive Types rather than working to demographics. An example of cognitive type would be a “learner”, someone whose main tasks for the work day require reading, learning new information, communicating etc.
The “learner” can be gender agnostic, any age group, or social background.
A cognitive type provides a better backdrop for guidelines as there are biological and cognitive baselines associated to tasks.
Can it tell me exactly what to do to change people’s behaviour?
We are firm believers that neuroscience is not about brain hacking and being predictive in behaviour. We take the view of our Scientific Director Dr. Hugo Spiers who says “being a neuroscientist gives me huge invaluable insights that allow me to ask better questions of and about people”.
We would say that the more acute the human problem and the fewer parameters of influence, the more science can give "predictive" answers. However, the reality is that in issues such as workplace design, leisure experience urban design the parameters are so broad that we focus more on how the science can inform us in probabilistic models.
Are you certified in any way?
Our partnership with University College London ensures that any novel approaches we (have) take(n) meet academic rigour and criteria and ethics board requirements.
What sectors do you cover?
All sectors in the built environment. Our focus is on people, how they perceive environments, and how they would gauge their experience.
Our work has recently been valued by Urban Planners, Real Estate Developers, Architects and Product Engineering firms.
Do you work outside the United Kingdom?
At present we are mostly U.K. focused however are gearing towards international work. Experimentation and R&D is best placed to take place in the U.K. with us.
Do we work in Tech & SmartCities?
Whilst not directly answering the "#smartcities" questions, our view is that we look for future human problems and their need and interactions with built environments to identify the most effective allocation of financial resources and technology. Human first, technology second. Any application of our work to technology development is related to how it is used in the built environment. There are plenty of digital UX design companies. We are a built environment UX company.
What does the process of working with you look like?
A first interaction with us involves asking you a series of questions about why you want to improve the User Experience of your environments. From there we can co-work and co-identify an effective strategy to support your endeavours in doing what you do more effectively. All work is bespoke in arrangement however rough guidelines can include, a few weeks for a workshop, 2-6 weeks for a Risk Assessment, up to 6 months for a full Throught Leadership Report, and over 12 months for R&D testing. We will only recommend something useful to you. We wouldn't leave you high and dry, prefering to build a long term relationship rather than do a short term deal.
What do I get from you (that I can’t get elsewhere/already have)?
We have spent the past 5 years researching, distilling and translating useful insights so you don’t have to.
We have established contractual agreements to bring academic facilities and resources to industry so you don’t have to.
We have developed a framework of research and application that is multi-disciplinary ensuring we can approach a wide array of issues, so you don’t have to.
The combined knowledge of urban systems, real estate, psychology and neuroscience means that we get to the root of the business and human problem and ensure correct application of a wide field of research.
We give you the speed needed to keep up with the ever changing pace of business and customer needs.
What proportion of your work is academic/business related?
All our work is client led consultancy.
We are part of the http://ecologicalbrain.org/ as a supporting research partner.
Why should I choose Centric Lab and not a big design agency's strategy unit
There are many benefits to being small (but mighty).
We tell it how it is.
We don’t have a big mantra to follow.
Whilst a big agency may have everyone in house, we don’t. We instead have built arrangements and relationships with leading professionals across many disciplines, pulling in appropriate partners to ensure our clients can gain as diverse intellectual capital as possible.
We are confident that you won’t find the same through-line of resources and approach other than with Centric.
Are you the only people that do this?
There are great thinkers and individuals in this sector, based within agencies and academic institutions, and we support their work. We partner with some too.
We are a business focused consultancy established to bridge the gap between academia and industry and build a scalable platform for universal adoption.
The Centric Lab operates from its offices at Studio 5, 155 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ. It's operating businesses are The Centric Lab (London) Ltd (Company #10849927) and Noble Research Ltd (Company #11291385) both of which are registered at the operating address. In addition, the businesses are both registered for VAT which is payable on all invoices. 'Centric Lab' is a registered trademark under UK patent #00003315937, any use of this name is not permitted unless it falls outside of the boundaries of its trademark. Use of 'Centric Lab' within these boundaries will result in us seeking professional advice on our options.
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