Focus Theme 2015:

"From Neuron to Person: Assembling Behavior and Cognition"

Research in the wider cognitive and neurosciences (including AI, machine learning and robotics) often deals with specific subsystems or functions, like "motor control", "object recognition", "working memory", etc. There are numerous reasons for this fragmentation: real-life cognitive systems are overwhelmingly complex; a divide-and-conquer strategy of isolating subsystems has been very successful in the history of the sciences; commercially relevant applications mostly are centered on single functionalities; interdisciplinary research is not easy in practice. Defying these obstacles, the Interdisciplinary College in 2015 will cast its focus on complete, autonomous agents -- animals, humans, robots, and software characters. An offering of 20+ courses is grouped under the following perspectives:

  • Modeling Cognitive Architectures: theoretical / mathematical / computational frameworks to analyse or design complete intelligent agents
  • Person, Identity, Dignity: philosophical / psychological / animal ethics perspectives on sentient beings
  • Engineering Agents: technological approaches to build robots, avatars and software agents
  • Neurons, Muscles, Bodies: "bottom-up" modeling of sensing and motor control in neurobiology, genetics and motor science
  • Language and Thought: "top-down" modeling of higher cognitive capacities in cognitive psychology and linguistics

Basic Courses

  • A basic course of Cognitive Science. Frank Jäkel, University of Osnabrück, Germany
  • From neurons to brain systems: An introduction to biological principles and biophysical modeling approaches. Dieter Jaeger, Emory University, U.S.A.
  • Machine learning. Madalina Olteanu, Université Paris 1, France
  • Introduction to mobile robots. Stefano Carpin, UC Merced, U.S.A.
  • Sensory and motor physiology. Joachim Schmidt and Carmen Wellmann, University of Cologne, Germany

Method Courses

  • Neurogenetics: Building a remote control fruit-fly. Salil S. Bidaye, UC Berkeley, U.S.A.
  • Nonlinear Dynamics Modelling in Neurosciences. Victor Jirsa, INSERM, CNRS, France

Modeling Cognitive Architectures

  • Modeling cognition with neurons: Spaun and the Neural Engineering Framework. Terry Stewart,  University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Cognitive modeling with ACT-R and PRIMs. Niels Taatgen, Groningen University, The Netherlands
  • The Free Energy Principle for Perception: An Introduction. Dirk Ostwald, Free University Berlin, Germany

Person, Identity, Dignity

  • Autobiographical memory and identity: Cognitive models, psychological functions, lifespan retrieval, and impairment in brain damage. Helen Williams, Keele University, U.K.
  • Disentangling human personality: the role of nature and nurture. Christian Montag, University of Ulm, Germany
  • Animal ethics. Arianna Ferrari, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • The Cognitive-Emotional Brain. Luiz Pessoa, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

Engineering Agents

  • Logics for agents. John-Jules Meyer, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • How to build a virtual human. Ipke Wachsmuth, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Autonomous agents for automated driving. Dirk Reichardt, Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University Stuttgart, and Dr. Stefan Gehrig, Daimler AG, Germany
  • Compositionality and self-organization in cognitive brains: neuro-robotics study. Jun Tani, Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
  • Engineering humanoid robots. Tamim Asfour, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Neurons, Muscles, Bodies

  • Active sensing. Jacob Engelmann, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Insights into neural computation and physiology from quantitative behavioral experiments. Andrew Straw, IMP Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) Vienna, Austria
  • Control of Gaze, Posture, and Movement. Hans Straka and Stefan Glasauer, LMU München, Germany
  • Human walking. Michael J. Grey, University of Birmingham, U.K.
  • The sense of the bodily self and its disturbances. Bigna Lenggenhager, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Language and Thought

  • Culture, language and cognition. Andrea Bender, University of Bergen, Norway
  • How can robots invent their own language. Luc Steels, Institute for Advanced Studies (ICREA) Barcelona, Spain and Michael Spranger, Sony CSL - Tokyo, Japan

Practical Courses

  • Being an agent – experiencing and exploring ourselves in movement and interaction. Elisabeth Zimmermann, University of Vienna, Austria 

Professional Skills

  • Introduction into aspects of good scientific practice (for newbies only). Isabell Witt, University of Cologne, Germany

Evening Talks

  • Embodied cognition, game characters and game design. Petri Lankoski, Södertörn University, Sweden
  • Transitions in sociality: ant societies and cooperative queens. Jennifer Fewell, Arizona State University, U.S.A.
  • Finding the soul of the machine: The Distributed Adaptive Control theory of Mind and Brain. Paul Verschure, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Catalan Institute of Advanced Research, Spain