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The human brain is outstanding among mammalian brains, containing around 100 billion neurons (more than the number of stars in the Milky Way) and over 100 trillion connections between them. Yet, when it comes to making decisions, this impressive organ does not prevent us from making errors – even avoidable ones.
When you think of the Renaissance period in Europe, what springs to mind? Perhaps the Medici family in Italy where the Renaissance is said to have begun, or the discovery of the ‘New World’ by Europeans like Christopher Columbus or Abel Tasman. But have you heard of the Jagiellonians?
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.
Sino alla metà del XV secolo, i libri venivano scritti a mano. Nel 1455 venne stampata la Bibbia di Gutenberg, cambiando per sempre la società. Negli anni successivi milioni di libri furono stampati in tutta Europa. Cosa si sa oggi di questi libri? Chi li leggeva? Chi li acquistava? Chi li annotava? Cristina Dondi è una ricercatrice dell'Università di Oxford e curatrice della mostra "Printing Revolution 1450-1500. I 50 anni che hanno cambiato l'Europa" aperta al Museo Correr di Venezia lo scorso settembre. Forte del successo ottenuto, con oltre 90 000 visitatori a dicembre 2018, la mostra è stata prolungata sino al 30 aprile 2019. Un percorso di scoperta attraverso libri antichi e moderni strumenti digitali, frutto di anni di rigorose ricerche finanziate dall'ERC, il Consiglio europeo delle Ricerche. Sentiamo in questa intervista come nasce la passione di Cristina Dondi per i primi libri a stampa e cosa ha scoperto con le sue ultime ricerche che l'hanno portata a collaborare con biblioteche di tutto il mondo.
Until the middle of the 15th century, books were copied by hand. After the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, in Mainz, printed books started to circulate in Europe marking the start of a new era. But what do we know about the first modern books? What were they about? Who wrote them, bought them, read them? Prof. Cristina Dondi is chasing these answers, following the breadcrumbs left by these incredible volumes.
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.
Dr Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a man of the sea. After many years in the Portuguese Navy, he gave up plans to become an admiral in favour of pursuing a PhD in the History of Cartography. This second career led him to receive an ERC Starting Grant, the first awarded in this budding discipline. With his highly multidisciplinary team (he likes to say that, to work with him, one must be a mathematician fluent in Latin), and the experience obtained as a navigator and navigational instructor, Dr Gaspar hopes to understand how and when the first nautical charts were created. The MEDEA-CHART team is the best place in Portugal, and probably in the world, to study the history of nautical cartography, hoping that this work will provide the domain with its rightful recognition within world history.
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.