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Round 1 Spring 2022

Inter-brain dynamics of interpersonal synchrony during continuous auditory-motor rhythm production

  • Anna Zamm, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
  • Seednumber: 26243
  • Collaborators:
    Cordula Vesper, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
    Andreas Højlund, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
    Peter Vuust, Department of Clinical Medicine, AU

    Thomas Wolf, Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University
    Anna-Katharina Bauer, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
    Natalie Sebanz, Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University
    Stefan Debener, Department of Psychology, University of Oldenburg


Interpersonal synchrony -the temporal coordination of actions between individuals - is fundamental to many human social behaviours, from group music-making to team sports. Emerging evidence from cognitive neuroscience suggests that interpersonal synchrony arises from inter-brain coupling of partners' cortical sensorimotor activity. One open question is how inter-brain coupling contributes to continuous dynamics of interpersonal synchrony during ongoing interaction. The proposed EEG hyperscanning project addresses this question using a novel joint musical rhythm production task. Pairs of human subjects will synchronously produce circular rhythmic motions on a circular touch-sensor; partners' touch locations on the sensor will be turned into sound (sonified) such that partners can synchronize movement via auditory feedback, as typically occurs during group music-making. EEG will be simultaneously recorded from partners  Partners' behavioural synchrony will be assessed by computing the Continuous Relative Phase (CRP) of partners' movement on the touch sensor. Partners' inter-brain synchrony will be assessed by computing CRP of partners' cortical oscillatory activity in frequency bands typically associated with sensorimotor processes. Most critically, behavioural and neural CRP dynamics will be correlated to assess the fundamental question of how inter-brain coupling contributes to the continuous dynamics of interpersonal synchrony during ongoing interaction.

Understanding learning through documentation – an implementation pilot

  • Ella Paldam, Interacting Minds Centre, AU
  • Seednumber: 26244
  • Collaborators:
    Amos Bokonen Blanton, Interacting Minds Centre, AU
    Savhannah Schulz, Interacting Minds Centre, AU
    Linda Greve, Science Museums, AU
    Rikke Steensgaard, Langagerskolen, Aarhus Municipality


Several projects at the IMC collaborate with external partners such as museums, libraries and schools to develop creative and constructionist learning environments. Educators are invaluable collaborators because they know the learners and the cultures at partner institutions. Yet, external partners also represent a challenge: when we collect data from children, we commit to a complicated set of ethical and legal data regulations. For some partner institutions, the work load of setting up secure data handling infrastructure and negotiating data agreements through state and municipal offices render this type of research unfeasible. This puts at risk opportunities to strengthen the learning potential at these institutions through collaborative research and development projects. 

When we implement creative learning environments, a key component is professional development of educators at partner institutions. Taking inspiration from international collaborators from Fondazione Reggio Children (Reggio Emilia, Italy), the Tinkering Studio (San Francisco Exploratorium), and Project Zero (Harvard Graduate School of Education), we invite educators to document learning using established practices and thinking routines. The documentation is designed to make learning visible in order to deepen learning. Yet, the potential of documentation as a research tool is still underdeveloped. 

This seed explores whether we can develop the educators’ documentation practices into a reliable source to deepen our understanding of children’s learning. Through systematic repeated interviews with educators that explore their documentation, we trace pedagogical changes caused by the implementation of new approaches to learning. By asking educators to point to and reflect on visible traces of learning from their own practice, we explore an aspect of documentation that holds potential for future IMC-based projects. 

When will the silence end? – Identifying neural markers of how partners coordinate pauses in social interaction

  • Anna Zamm, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
  • Seednumber: 26245
  • Collaborators:
    Simon Lind Kappel, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, AU
    Stefan Debener, Department of Psychology, University of Oldenburg
    Preben Kidmose, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, AU


Pauses are anubiquitous feature of social interaction: Speech partners pause between turns, musical partners pause expressively between phrases. Here we address the behavioural and neural mechanisms by which groups coordinate the duration of pauses in social interaction, using group music-making as a model of social interaction. Specifically, groups of trained musicians will produce rhythmic sequences that contain unmeasured pauses that they must synchronously resolve. EEG will be measured simultaneously from all group members using a novel hyperscanning platform from AU Engineering. Behavioural and neural data will be assessed to address the hypothesis that the ability to synchronously resolve pauses in social interaction is associated with predictive processes reflected in modulations of cortical sensorimotor oscillations that occur during pauses. 

Interacting Minds Interdisciplinary Research Podcast

  • Savhannah Schulz, Interacting Minds Centre, AU
  • Seednumber: 26246
  • Collaborators:
    Arnault Quentin Vermillet, Department of Clinical Medicine, AU  


Interacting Minds is an interdisciplinary research podcast and science communication project hosted by Arnault Quentin Vermillet and Savhannah Schulz. In each episode ofthe podcast, the two are joined by fellow interdisciplinary researchers to explore and discuss the work they have been doing and share a glimpse of the journey that brought them there. Outside of the recording studio, the project attempts to understand how researchers can build and maintain sustainable science communication platforms to build meaningful knowledge sharing exchanges with the public.

Communication Structure and Transactive Memory Systems Updating

  • Kyosuke Tanaka, Department of Management, AU
  • Seednumber: 26247
  • Collaborators:
    Jerry M Guo, Department of Management, AU 


Social cognition is a powerful explanation for team performance. But, it is not clear how social cognition developed from experience on one task would apply to a different task without updating. We examine the updating process of a specific form of social cognition: a transactive memory system, colloquially known as “knowledge of who knows what.” Applying a network lens, we investigate how communication network structures in small teams influence updating when the knowledge embedded in members changes. We aim to show how the directionality of communication ties—whether communication flows in both directions or only in one—facilitates updating. We will develop an agent-based simulation and an experimental paradigm to develop and test theory. Our research will advance knowledge in transactive memory systems, social networks, and team adaptation.

Heart Talk

  • Johanne SK Nedergaard, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
  • Seednumber: 26248
  • Collaborators:
    Line Kruse Danielsen, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
    Mikkel Wallentin, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU


This study contributes to the ongoing investigation of the inner voice and selftalk in cognition and well-being. It has previously been documented how selftalk is more or less omnipresent in human consciousness and may play a causal role in self-control. Here, we wish to investigate how self-talk may be involved in evoking emotion and/or in emotional control. We do so by investigating if inner speech can be used to manipulate heartrate. The relationship between inner speech, cognition, and the body has important implications for theories on rumination and depression.

ManyBabies3: Rule Learning using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)

  • Christopher Cox, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU
  • Seednumber: 26249
  • Collaborators:
    Daina Crafa, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, AU


This project investigates a question that lies at the heart of language development: to what extent can infants learn and apply linguistic rules to sequences of syllables?

In order to investigate this question, we use a non-invasive brain imaging technique(i.e., Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, fNIRS) to test the extent to which 5-12-month-old infants can learn abstract rules about syllables and whether they can extend those rules to novel sequences of syllables.Infants will be invited to the lab and first listen to a two-minute stream of syllables that follows a specific pattern (e.g. an A-B-B pattern: fe-ka-ka or ni-ta-ta). After this, infants will participate in a series of test trials where they listen to a series of shorter syllable sequences that either follows the same pattern as above or exhibits a new pattern (e.g. an A-B-A pattern: ka-pi-ka or na-ti-na). By recording infants’ brain activation responses to these distinct syllable sequences, we can gain insights into whether infants can learn abstract rules about linguistic patterns.

We conduct this experiment in connection with a large-scale international research consortium known as ManyBabies. This collaborative replication effort provides a unique opportunity to assess the reliability of this new methodology as well as the replicability of results across labs.

Round 2 Summer 2022

The taste of cooperation – Disentangling bottom-up versus top-down influences of shared food experience on social affiliation

  • Qian Janice Wang, Department of Management / Department of Food Science, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26250
  • Collaborators:
    Anna Zamm, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science, and Semiotics, Aarhus University


Sharing food is a culturally universal bonding experience. Emerging evidence suggests that eating the same food, or even sharing from the same plate, can promote trust and cooperation between strangers. However, the sensory and cognitive mechanisms by which food sharing facilitates social affiliation are still unknown. The present project aims to disentangle sensory (shared food experience) from cognitive (knowledge of sharing) contributions to social outcomes of food sharing. Two lab-based food-sharing studies will be conducted where, by manipulating what participants are told about the shared foods and what they actually eat, we can disassociate the cognitive knowledge of food-sharing from the sensory experience. Partners will subsequently complete a social coordination game that either requires cognitive cooperation (Study 1, economic game) or sensorimotor coordination (Study 2, synchronization of dyadic finger-tapping). Thus, the present project will elucidate how different pathways to social affiliation via food-sharing (sensory versus cognitive) impact coordination across distinct domains of social behavior. 

Educational institutions and voter turnout during the long nineteenth century

  • Jonathan Stavnskær Doucette, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26251
  • Collaborators:
    Roman Senninger, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University


Danish democracy became consolidated during the long nineteenth century. Subsequently, political engagement has been consistently high and anti-democratic parties have received very little electoral support. However, this unique democratic experience has not been subject to quantitative examination due to a lack of data. Our project makes this possible by coding new data on turnout and electoral results for all elections between 1849 and 1915 at a geographically fine-grained level. 

In addition, we propose that Folk High Schools, which sought to teach civic skills to students, increased political engagement and democratic support. The project advances our understanding of Democratic consolidation in new democracies.   

Voice- and speech-based markers of neuropsychiatric conditions: assessing methodological and ethical foundations for clinical application

  • Alberto Parola, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26252
  • Collaborators:
    Riccardo Fusaroli, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University
    VIA 7 Research Group / Vibeke Bliksted, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
    Roberta Rocca, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University
    Lasse Hansen, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
    Kenneth Enevoldsen, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University


Promising ML applications have shown great potential to identify vocal and speech markers of the most important neuropsychiatric conditions (e.g., Hitczenko et al., 2021; Cohen et al., 2021; Corcoran et al., 2020) and to develop systems able to monitor patients' symptoms and assist clinicians during the assessment process. However, these efforts face important limitations: the limited replicability and generalizability of previous results (Parola et al., 2022; Fusaroli et al., 2021), few attempts to explicitly account for the heterogeneity of the disorders (Mittal, 2021), and no concrete translation into effective clinical applications yet. What is critically lacking is an explicit reflection on the risks and limitations of ML applications that can support the development of robust, effective, and ethically grounded translational work. In this project, we will explore avenues to improve the clinical impact of ML applications in speech and voice research, focusing primarily on applicability and ethical concerns.  

To this end, we draw on an already collected large dataset of voice and speech samples from the Danish High Risk and Resilience Study - VIA7 study (Gantriis et al., 2019), which examined 522 children born to parents diagnosed with schizophrenia (SZ) or bipolar disorder (BP). Our goal is to develop conservative (i.e., more robust and generalizable) ML and NLP pipelines to identify vocal and language markers of clinical symptoms in children at high-risk, that can serve as a reference for future studies. In addition, we aim to assess the impact of heterogeneity (e.g., socioeconomic, demographic, and clinical differences) and the presence of potential methodological biases and limitations, and robustly test the reliability of the results against various preprocessing and analytical procedure. Finally, we will explore how ML techniques can concretely support the development of robust, effective, and ethically founded clinical applications, and evaluate how to include from the very design of a study a consideration of risks, limitations, and ethical practices. The final outcome is to provide a first solid effort - both conceptually and methodologically - for the development of better practices in ML, SSP and NLP clinical research.

Wool Worked Worlds –Studying Industrial Landscapes through Collaborative Filmmaking

  • Annika Capelán, Centre for Environmental Humanities and Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26253
  • Collaborators:
    Hestia Victor, Department of Social Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, North West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa 
    Thandiwe Twala, Department of Social Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, North West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

    Kefiloe Sello, Environmental Humanities South, Faculty of Humanites, University of Cape Town (UCT)


A paradox characterises wool production: it is highly industrialised yet cannot be detached from place-specific ecologies and social relations. Wool sheared from sheep is materially shaped by the geopolitical and ecological particularities of the grasslands where they are raised. The EU Marie Cuire funded project Wool Worked Worlds explores how these local diversities shape the global wool industry,and how local sheep rearing and landscape management practices are shaped by practitioners’ imaginaries of geographically distant parts of the wool industry. Bringing together different versions of global wool, the approach deploys collaborative filmmaking engaging the work and analysis of sheep farmers, indigenous/black/coloured community members, laboratory technicians and ambulant sheep shearers from three wool regions – South Africa, Australia and Patagoni. The collaborative aspects of the film making implies that the work will be dialogical and that the consultants’ analyses will shape the film all along. IMC Seed funding adds a new layer of collaboration through the involvment of two junior scholars, both of them with attachments to the South African grasslands, and substantial research experience there, and both with previous connections to AU/Denmark. Through their skills and backgrounds, the coworkers add disciplinary diversity and allow for further methodological experimention which is key to the project questions about methods and analysis, i.e. about our abilities to respond to landscapes that are ‘wool worked’; damaged or otherwise affected by the longterm presence of woolen sheep along settler colonial dynamics. IMC Seed funding also stimulates stronger cross-institutional program building between AU CEH and UCT Environmental Humanities.

Adding Danish to the Semantic Priming Across Many Languages project

  • Fabio Trecca, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics and TrygFonden's Centre for Child Research, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26254
  • Collaborators:
    Yngwie Asbjørn Nielsen, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University
    Stefan Pfattheicher, 
    Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University
    Morten H. Christiansen, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, and Department of Psychology, Cornell University


Semantic priming - the facilitation of linguistic processing observed when a word follows a semantically related word - is a cornerstone within cognitive science, linguistics, and natural language processing. Large-scale databases on semantic priming have provided researchers with invaluable resources for designing experiments and developing computational models of language processing. However, the existing databases have insufficient sample sizes and are often restricted to a single language: English. In an extensive collaboration organized by the Psychological Science Accelerator, researchers from across the world will explore cross-linguistic differences in the semantic priming effect and build a new, highly-powered database spanning multiple languages. In this project, we will add Danish to a state-of-the-art resource openly available to linguists, cognitive scientists, and anyone interested in improving our understanding of language in general and Danish in particular.

Episodes of Passive Coordination in Joint Action

  • Cordula Vesper, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26255
  • Collaborators:
    Janeen Loehr, Psychology, University of Saskatchewan
    Laura Schmitz, Sport Science, University of Hannover
    Anna Zamm, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University
    Ivana Konvalinka, Applied Mathematics & Computer Science, DTU



In joint action, two or more people coordinate their actions towards a common goal. This coordination requires active adjustment of one’s own actions towards what others are doing: In team sports like basketball, one needs to direct a pass precisely to the location a co-player is running towards; when jointly lifiting an object, one needs to precisely fine-tune when and with how much force to lift one’s own end so the object maintains balance; and in pair dance, the two dancers’ bodies become a coupled system with continuous mutual influences. However, some joint actions also include intervals in which no actively controlled movement occurs. Examples of such passive coordination episodes include gliding movements such as when roller-skating down-hill together or when pausing and holding briefly while dancing or playing music together. This aspect of joint action has so far mostly been overlooked. Accordingly, the present project will test the hypothesis that also such passive coordination is perceived as joint action (i.e., a sense of joint agency is maintained through such episodes) and is thus supported by similar coordination mechanisms as active coordination. Through the analysis of dyad participants’ movement kinematics and subjective ratings of their sense of joint agency during a joint movement task, we will extend our understanding of the nature of joint action, specifically how passive coordination episodes are achieved, how they are maintained despite the lack of active control, and how they are experienced. 

Formalizing Mechanisms of Turn-Taking: A Systematic Review of Models of Turn-Taking across Non-Human Animal Species

  • Christopher Cox, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University
  • Seednumber: 26256
  • Collaborators:
    Federico Rossano, Department of Cognitive Science, University of California San Diego
    Greg Bryant, Department of Communication, University of California
    Jack Terwilliger, University of California San Diego
    Riccardo Fusaroli, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University


Vocal exchanges involve coordinated interactions between two or more participants who take turns in their roles as speakers and listeners. The fluency of these vocal exchanges requires dynamic negotiation of temporal structure. Turn-taking has been argued to function as a cognitive scaffolding to facilitate social interactions, and the basic optimisation principles of turn-taking behavior appear to exhibit similarity across different species. By systematically reviewing the literature, we can investigate mechanistic models of turn-taking, as well as provide a comparative perspective across species. In particular, we aim at answering the following questions: 1) which formalized models have been suggested for animal turn-taking? 2) can the models be generalized across species, and more generally, what can be learned by systematically implementing and comparing different models? 3) what can be learned on human turn-taking by conceptually and statistically applying these models to human data?