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The ERC-funded ONOFF project is building upon previous efforts to better understand auditory hallucinations (AH) in patients with schizophrenia. Its results could lead to new cognitive and pharmacological treatments.
ELECTION SERIES #3
The traditional pencil-and-paper method to mark your vote in the polling booth has been gradually replaced by electronic voting machines in many countries, in Europe and beyond. Ensuring the security of electronic voting machines and quelling fears of vote-rigging have become ever more important. One ERC-funded researcher has been working tirelessly to develop such an e-voting system through two projects, SEEVS and its follow-up SEEVCA.
The increasing development of wearable technology sparks the need for new, innovative ways to interact with our shiny gadgets. Deviating from the conventional approach based on touch-sensitive devices, Prof. Jürgen Steimle aims at producing body-worn user interfaces that can be applied directly on the skin. Highly personalised, biocompatible and ultrathin, these devices will seamlessly blend with the human skin to create a technological extension of our body.
Agnieszka Wykowska is a senior researcher of the Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction at the Italian Institute of Technology (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia) in Genova, Italy. In 2016 she has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her project “Intentional Stance for Social Attunement” whose goal is to investigate if humans are ready to engage in social interactions with humanoid robots. Dr Wykowska will present her findings at the ERC's conference Frontier Research and Artificial Intelligence.
The amount of currently available biomedical data is overwhelming. Large databases exist at different scales, from genes, to proteins, to patients' histories. But what do scientists do with all this information? Serbian-born Professor Nataša Pržulj, from University College London, works with Big Data to establish patterns and gain knowledge that could revolutionise how we treat diseases.
Travellers already benefit from applications harnessing data from sensor networks and smartphone users. They calculate alternative routes, help plan carpooling routes, or support the optimisation of public transport. With her ERC grant, Prof. Vana Kalogeraki works on a comprehensive software framework that will simplify the development of such mobile human-centred systems and make them more predictable and reliable.
A number of factors have played an important role in the evolutionary success of the human species. One of the undeniably fundamental factors has been our inherent ability to communicate. This capacity to perceive, respond to and coordinate behaviour with others has not only allowed us to survive, but also to thrive. The ERC-funded project SOCIAL ROBOTS headed by Prof. Emily Cross is aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of how we comprehend and coordinate our actions with other people and with robots to achieve mutual goals.
While on court, beach volleyball players need to act as a whole in order to prevent the ball from touching the sand: in a fraction of a second - just before the opponent's hand spikes the ball - the passer has to predict and adjust to the attacker's action as well as to their teammate's block position. Thanks to her Consolidator Grant, cognitive science professor Natalie Sebanz is studying the cognitive and psychological mechanisms underlying joint action expertise – in other words, how individuals learn skilled actions, such as those performed by professional athletes, together.
While computers can calculate or recognise faces, they are not aware of themselves (yet?). Consciousness is in the essence of human beings; its nature, however, appears to lack a reliable explanation. Prof. Axel Cleeremans is developing a new theory, the Radical Plasticity Thesis, maintaining that consciousness is a long-lasting property of our brain rather than just a static feature. In order to test it, he is taking a multidisciplinary approach including psychological studies and advanced brain imaging.
The Theory of Mind - the ability to understand that others may have thoughts, beliefs, desires, and intentions different from ours - develops in early childhood and is considered as a key process to explain our social interactions. How do children acquire this ability? What are the cognitive and brain mechanisms that allow human beings to learn from others, to predict their behaviour and to communicate with them? These are some of the questions Dr Agnes Melinda Kovacs addresses, thanks to an ERC grant, in her laboratory in Budapest.