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Priority Programme ,,The Active Self" (SPP 2134)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
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. This concept describes a person's phenomenal experience in the here and now and 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 goal of the Priority Programme is to:
o provide empirically validated core mechanisms underlying the emergence of behavioural indicators of selfhood (including body ownership and personal agency);
o test how these core mechanisms generate a self in the course of ontogenetic development or the acquisition of expertise;
o integrate the knowledge about core mechanisms and their role in development and learning into a dynamic model of self-construction;
o design robotics experiments that can test hypotheses on the development of the minimal self;
o and advance the state of the art in cognitive skills in robotics, in particular for human-robot interaction.

This goal will be achieved by addressing five key questions:
o To which extent is the self plastic? (e.g., how and how much is self-representation affected by, and emerging from sensorimotor experience, socio-cultural and situational factors)
o To which degree does the sensorimotor impact on the self rely on or interact with internal, endogenous constraints? (e.g., self-concept, body image)
o What are the roles of body ownership and agency? (e.g., are they independent factors or both emerge from event control)
o How does creating and having a self work back on sensorimotor skills and cognitive processes? (e.g., can particular kinds of self-perception increase or reduce cognitive abilities)
o What are the mechanisms and prerequisites that allow an agent to develop a self? (e.g., can robots develop a self)

Participating projects will need to address at least one of the five key questions. Moreover, successful proposals will need to explain in detail (a) which of the questions will be addressed by the planned project; (b) how the minimal self will be assessed and operationalized; © that and how the suggested empirical approach is suited to tackle the respective question(s); (d) and what the expected contribution to the attempt to answer the respective question(s) will be.

The programme is intended to be strongly interdisciplinary in nature and proposals for the second funding phase are required to include cooperation across disciplinary borders.

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Markus Paulus
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
Department Psychologie
Lehrstuhl für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie II
phone +49 89 2180-5150
E-Mail: markus.paulus@lmu.de

Further Information: