social interaction

CFP: LangEnact II


25 September – 27 September 2017

Call deadline: 28 April 2017

By Stephen J. Cowley, University of Southern Denmark ( 

The Centre for Human Interactivity invites you to contribute to LangEnact II, Meaning Without Representation: Grounding Language in Sensorimotor Coordination to take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 25-27 September, 2017 at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Radical embodied approaches to language offer an alternative to neurocentric alternatives. They are inspired, on the one hand, by Wittgenstein’s focus on communities and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body. On the other, they build on how Hutchins and Kirsh opened the way to studying cognition beyond the brain. Accordingly, meaning – and, in human forms of life, language – are taken to derive from what Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana call the enactment of a world and a mind:

“(…) cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs” (Varela, Thompson, Rosch, The Embodied Mind, MIT Press, p. 9).

Until recently, those rejecting computational views have tended to neglect language. In putting this to rights, we address “meaning without representation” by asking how language can be, on the one hand, an effective means of interpersonal coordination and, on the other, grounded in individual bodies that bring forth an encultured and lived world. The conference places this question at the confluence of two traditions: while enactive linguistics makes embodiment central to rethinking French theories of ‘enunciation’ and the nature of langues (language-systems), the distributed-ecological perspective builds on cognitive science by tracing language, not to verbal patterns, but to how people coordinate bodily movement as they make their way in a (partly) common world.  (more…)

Another Master’s thesis published

The second thesis of our group has been published. Please find the title and summary below.

Minimización de la red neuronal artificial de agentes encarnados evolucionados para comunicarse referencialmente

Jorge Iván Campos Bravo

En este proyecto realizamos una minimización de la red neuronal del modelo generado por Williams et al. (2008), en dicho modelose implementan dos agentes en un ambiente mínimoen el que pueden interactuar entre ellos, pero no poseen canales especializados para comunicarse.

Su tarea es sencilla, el transmisor necesita informar al receptor la posición de un objetivo en el ambiente y el receptor necesita llegar a la posición del objetivo.

En nuestro modelo, ambos agentes utilizan la misma copia estructural de red neuronal recurrente en tiempo continuo para controlar su sistema sensorio-motor; dicha red neuronal artificial consta de tres neuronas para ambos agentes.

Se realizaron modificaciones al sistema sensorio-motor y al ambiente original para adaptar el nuevo sistema neuronal, sin perder la esencia de la motivación principal, generar comunicación referencial entre los agentes.

Master’s thesis published

The first thesis of our group has been published. Please find the title and summary below.

Un modelo de robótica evolutiva para el reconocimiento explícito de agencialidad

Leticia Cruz Bárcenas

El estudio de la cognición social ha sido abordado principalmente desde dos perspectivas. Por un lado tenemos, el punto de vista del individualismo ampliamente usado en la cognición social, donde se plantea que la interacción y cognición social es el resultado de capacidades cognitivas individuales. Por otro lado, tenemos la perspectiva interaccionista enfocada en que el comportamiento resultante de dos o más individuos reside en los mecanismos colectivos de la interacción dinámica. A pesar de la existencia de estos enfoques, el estudio del rol en la interacción social no ha sido prioritario en las investigaciones de cognición social. Algunas de las dificultades enfrentadas en este sentido están relacionadas con la identificación de características cualitativas y cuantitativas esenciales durante el fenómeno (Lenay & Stewart, 2012).

Con el fin de tener de mejores herramientas analíticas, Auvray et al. (2009) propuso un modelo minino de cognición social que reduce este fenómeno a sus elementos más básicos. Haciendo uso de este modelo se realizó un experimento cuyo objetivo era identificar los mecanismos subyacentes debido al reconocimiento de un sujeto con intencionalidad. Los resultados mostraron que el comportamiento de los individuos propiciaba la interacción con el otro, así como la discriminación del resto de los objetos del ambiente debido a los movimientos oscilatorios individuales.

Con el fin de continuar esta línea de investigación, el presente trabajo muestra un modelo sintético que simula los resultados obtenidos en el experimento original. Utilizando robótica evolutiva se implementó un modelo para investigar la dinámica de interacción en el reconocimiento explícito de agencialidad entre agentes artificiales. El modelo demostró que existe se preserva una interacción cuando los agentes están interactuando entre ellos a pesar de que existan otros objetos/obstáculos en el ambiente.

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.