embodied cognition

Poster presentations at the C3

On June 8 members if our group participated in an event at the Centre for the Sciences of Complexity (C3) called: “C3: Un Centro Transversal para la UNAM”.

We created a number of posters about our current work in progress:

CFP: DFG Priority Programme “The Active Self”

Call for Proposals No. 24, 18 May 2017

Priority Programme „The Active Self“ (SPP 2134)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “The Active Self” (SPP 2134). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The Priority Programme brings together cognitive and behavioural scientists from various disciplines, including psychology and robotics, to study the sensorimotor grounding of the human minimal self – a concept that relates to a person’s phenomenal experience in the here and now and to the question of how we perceive ourselves to be in a particular situation. While this experience is likely to be dominated by information delivered by the senses, i.e., by self-perception in a literal, immediate sense, humans also have knowledge about themselves, amassed over years, and a sense of understanding how their self relates to others.

The relatively recent increasing interest in the self is fueled by important methodological improvements, such as the availability of virtual-reality techniques and affordable robots with humanoid characteristics, and the development of noninvasive methods to study cognition in infants, but also by converging lines of theoretical thinking related to ideomotor processes on the one hand and embodied cognition on the other. The programme will seek to unravel the degree to which our self-representation is plastic and sensitive to immediate experience, to which degree it is constrained by past experience, how it integrates experiences of agency and action-ownership, how it affects other cognitive processes, and to what degree self-representation can be established in artificial agents.

CFP: Embodied Aesthetics

Dear friends, dear colleagues,

You are cordially invited to submit a paper for either oral or poster presentation to the upcoming conference:

19th Herbstakademie: “Embodied Aesthetics: Resonance in Perception, Expression and Therapy”

Embodied Aesthetics is part of the series of Herbstakademie meetings dedicated to the topic of complex systems in psychology, neuroscience and related disciplines. Please submit (before June 9) and/or register using this website:


The conference will take place in autumn this year (October 5 – 7, 2017) in Heidelberg, Germany. It will address theoretical and applied questions of embodiment:

– What is the role of the body in feeling and thinking, particularly concerning the experience of beauty? We bodily resonate with aesthetic experiences when we appreciate art and unexpected insights. In art-making, we thrive and experience agency and self-congruence. How can an embodied aesthetics be conceptualized?
– Which novel perspectives can the embodiment approach offer to creative arts therapies, psychotherapy, and artistic expression?
– How can clinicians and psychotherapists incorporate embodiment, such as nonverbal synchrony, into their work?
– What role does the experience and embodiment of beauty play for health?

Confirmed keynotes by:

Claus-Christian Carbon, Experimental Psychology, Aesthetics, Universität Bamberg
Vittorio Gallese, Cognitive Neuroscience, Universita’ di Parma
Hermann Haken, Synergetics and Systems Theory, Universität Stuttgart
Sander Koole, Synchrony, Social Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Winfried Menninghaus, Empirical Aesthetics, Max-Planck-Institut Frankfurt
Hartmut Rosa, Resonance, Sociology, Universität Jena
Andrea Schiavio, Music Psychology, University of Sheffield, Bogazici University

You may attend one of the three pre-conference workshops on October 4:

Johannes Michalak “Embodiment in mindfulness-based interventions”
Miriam Kyselo “Enacting the self – a bodily exploration of self with others”
Lily Martin & Birgitt Bodingbauer “Embodied aesthetics of flow – creating ‘optimal experiences’ through movement”

With kind regards
Wolfgang Tschacher, Sabine Koch, and Thomas Fuchs


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Tschacher
Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Universität Bern

Prof. Dr. Sabine Koch
Alanus University Alfter
SRH Hochschule Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Fuchs
Klinik für Allgemeine Psychiatrie
Universität Heidelberg

Course on the new cognitive science

Agentes autónomos, sistemas sociales, y la nueva ciencia cognitiva

(Alternative title: Agentes autónomos y multiagentes)

Tutor: Tom Froese

This course will introduce ongoing debates in cognitive science about our changing understanding of the mind. Instead of being thought of as a digital computer inside the brain, mind is now widely considered to be an embodied, embedded and extended activity in the world. These ideas will be illustrated based on case studies of research in agent-based models and human-computer interfaces, with special emphasis on demonstrating how social interactions and technologies shape our mind. Students are not expected to program models nor to design interfaces, but to understand the implications of the new cognitive science and to apply them to their own research interests.

The course will be taught mainly in English to better prepare students for the special terms used by leading researchers in cognitive science.

The course starts on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Please consult the course website for more details.

Here is a video that introduces key topics of this course:

New paper analyzing transition to presence-at-hand

Cognitive and movement measures reflect the transition to presence-at-hand

Dobromir Dotov, Lin Nie, Kevin Wojcik, Anastasia Jinks, Xiaoyu Yu, and Anthony Chemero

The phenomenological philosopher Martin Heidegger’s proposed transition from readiness-to-hand to presence-at-hand and the hypothesis of extended cognition were addressed empirically in an experiment on tool use. It involved a video game of steering erratically moving objects to a target while performing a secondary cognitive task. A strong perturbation of the hand-pointer linkage in the video game induced the transition from ready-to-hand to present-at-hand. In Experiment 1, this perturbation resulted in decreased motor performance and improved recall of task-irrelevant features. Experiment 2 replicated these results and addressed additional questions. Measures of movement variability based on the multifractal formalism confirmed the hypothesized decrease in functional integration of the tool during the perturbation. Dynamical interactions allow user and tool to act as a system. The tool is properly described as ready-to-hand during normal operation but as present-at-hand during perturbation. Physiological measures showed that the ready-to-hand to present-at-hand transition does not necessarily lead to a stress response.

New paper on the irreducibility of social interaction dynamics

In an upcoming publication in the journals Frontiers in Psychology we present a couple of findings that challenge the prevalent idea that properties of social interaction can be explained in terms of individual properties alone.

Time series analysis of embodied interaction: Movement variability and complexity matching as dyadic properties

Leonardo Zapata-Fonseca, Dobromir G. Dotov, Ruben Y. Fossion, and Tom Froese

There is a growing consensus that a fuller understanding of social cognition depends on more systematic studies of real-time social interaction. Such studies require methods that can deal with the complex dynamics taking place at multiple interdependent temporal and spatial scales, spanning sub-personal, personal, and dyadic levels of analysis. We demonstrate the value of adopting an extended multi-scale approach by re-analyzing movement time series generated in a study of embodied dyadic interaction in a minimal virtual reality environment (a perceptual crossing experiment).

Reduced movement variability revealed an interdependence between social awareness and social coordination that cannot be accounted for by either subjective or objective factors alone: it picks out interactions in which subjective and objective conditions are convergent (i.e. elevated coordination is perceived as clearly social, and impaired coordination is perceived as socially ambiguous). This finding is consistent with the claim that interpersonal interaction can be partially constitutive of direct social perception.

Clustering statistics (Allan Factor) of salient events revealed fractal scaling. Complexity matching defined as the similarity between these scaling laws was significantly more pronounced in pairs of participants as compared to surrogate dyads. This further highlights the multi-scale and distributed character of social interaction and extends previous complexity matching results from dyadic conversation to nonverbal social interaction dynamics. Trials with successful joint interaction were also associated with an increase in local coordination. Consequently, a local coordination pattern emerges on the background of complex dyadic interactions in the PCE task and makes joint successful performance possible.