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Interacting Minds: Workshop and Centre Opening

Aarhus University has established the Interacting Minds Centre as a new interdisciplinary initiative, 2012-16.

Date August 24, 2012

Time 9.30-17.00

Location Nobel Salen, Room 123, building 1485, Aarhus University, map.

Registration Participation is free and open to all. Please register at the webshop before August 20.


The Centre brings together researchers from all four main academic areas in experimental studies of cognition, communication and choice. The Centre opens August 24 with an academic workshop.

At the same occasion, we also mark the end of Niels Bohr visiting professorship to Chris Frith, the Aarhus University Research Foundation visiting professorship to Uta Frith and of the Interacting Minds a Biological Basis project.

Interview with Andreas Roepstorff on the new centre.


Morning session: 9.30 – 12.30

Interacting Minds, Scientific Workshop

09.30: Mette Thunø, Dean of Arts, Aarhus University: Welcome and opening of workshop

09.40: Günther Knoblich & Natalie Sebanz (Budapest): How do minds make bodies interact?

10.10: Hanne de Jaegher (San Sebastian): The Interactive Brain Hypothesis

10.35: Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen): Empathy and Projection

11.00: Break

11.15: Jakob Hohwy (Melbourne): Phenomenally Social

11.40: David Dreyer Lassen (Copenhagen): Impatience in Economics and Politics

12.05: Stefan Beck (Berlin): Minding (:) anthropology's business


Afternoon Session: 14.00 – 17.00

Interacting Minds Centre: opening and reception

14.00: Svend Hylleberg, Dean of Business and Social Sciences

14.10: Uta Frith, Aarhus University Foundation Visiting Professor

14.25: Bjarke Paarup Laursen, Head of Department, Institute of Culture and Society

14:35 Inger Schaumburg, Centre Director, Aarhus University Hospital

14.45: Andreas Roepstorff, Director, Interacting Minds Centre


15.15: Armin Geertz, Chairman of Board, Interacting Minds Centre

15.25 Per Baltzer Overgaard, Vice-Dean for Research and Talent Development, Business and Social Science

15.35: Leif Østergaard, Director, MINDlab and CFIN

15.45: Chris Frith, Niels Bohr Visiting Professor

16.00: Anne Marie Pahuus, Vice-Dean for Research and Talent Development, Arts

Reception, Building 1483, 3.



Günther Knoblich & Natalie Sebanz How do minds make bodies interact?

Minds interact not only in order to improve individuals' perception and cognition but they also interact to coordinate multiple individuals' actions towards common goals. We will focus on the latter aspect and address three mechanisms through which interacting minds support action coordination. First, results from a joint mental rotation task demonstrate that coordination can be facilitated by switching from an egocentric to an allocentric perspective. Second, findings from a give and take task show that predictive mechanism enhance temporal coordination between people. Third, a study of joint piano duetting illustrates that error monitoring during joint action applies to aspects of the joint as well as the other's performance. Together, these findings suggest that interacting minds are well equipped with coordination mechanisms supporting joint action.


Hanne de Jaegher The interactive Brain Hypothesis

Participatory sense-making, the enactive approach to social understanding, foregrounds the role of interpersonal interaction in explanations of intersubjectivity. In relation to social neuroscience, this raises the question of how interactive processes relate to neural mechanisms involved in social understanding. I will briefly introduce the Interactive Brain Hypothesis (IBH), which helps map the spectrum of possible relations between social interaction and neural processes (Di Paolo & De Jaegher 2012). The hypothesis states that interactive experience and skills play enabling roles in both the development and current function of social brain mechanisms, even in cases where social understanding happens in the absence of immediate interaction. I will describe some elements of social interaction that bear most directly on this hypothesis and discuss some empirical possibilities open to social neuroscience. We propose that the link between coordination dynamics and social understanding can be best grasped by studying transitions between states of coordination. These transitions form part of the self-organization of interaction processes that characterize the dynamics of social engagement. The patterns and synergies of this self-organization help explain how individuals understand each other. Various possibilities for role-taking emerge during interaction, determining a spectrum of participation. Finally, I introduce the concept of readiness to interact, which serves to grasp the practices and dispositions that are summoned in situations of social significance (even if not interactive). This latter idea links interactive factors to more classical observational scenarios.


Dan Zahavi Empathy and Projection

The notion of empathy doesn't have a long history. The German term "Einfühlung" had been used in the 1870ies in the domain of aesthetics by the philosopher Robert Vischer, but was then taken over by Theodor Lipps, who introduced it into the field of social cognition and used it to designate our basic understanding of others. It was Lipps' notion that Edward Titchener, the American psychologist, had in mind when he in 1909 translated "Einfühlung" as "empathy". In my talk, I will briefly present some of the central elements in Lipps' account, and then consider a number of the objections to this account that can be found in the phenomenological tradition. Lipps' position is by no means of mere historical interest. It has remained influential and has a number of modern heirs. One reason for considering the phenomenological criticism of Lipps is that such a criticism might remain pertinent when it comes to assessing contemporary positions in the theory of mind debate.


Jakob Hohwy Phenomenally Social

Conscious experience is traditionally conceived as a paradigm of privacy. Yet this is in tension with contemporary research, which suggests that conscious experience has an intriguing social nature. I explore the idea that consciousness is private so that it can be social.


David Dreyer Lassen Impatience in Economics and Politics

Economists traditionally characterize humans by two parameters: their attitudes towards risk (risk aversion) and their relative preference for immediate rather than future consumption (impatience). The talk will first describe recent efforts to understand empirically responses to policy interventions in a setting where citizens differ in impatience and, second, chart possible extensions of this framework to encompass differences in political attitudes towards economic and regulatory policy.


Stefan Beck Minding (:) anthropology's business

As cognitive anthropologist James S. Boster recently ironized the methodological and epistemological differences in cognitive studies: "cognitive psychologists examine trees and cognitive anthropologists contemplate forests." That different disciplines curate different units of analysis (trees vs. forests) applying different modes of inquiry (examining /experimenting vs. contemplating) to like phenomena holds true also for "interaction". In its long history, mainstream anthropology was interested in interaction foremost as a building block for or as the outcome of enduring social relations, offering insights into group-formations, relations of groups or institutions and the social or cultural glue binding them together. To mobilize anthropological insights for the debates in cognitive science, anthropology will not only have to shift into a more experimental mode of inquiry but will also have to curate bridging concepts; the paper will exemplify this by taking up the notions of embodiment and interaction.