Neuronal dynamics for cognitive robotics, August 2019

Our annual summer school gives students an in-depth look at dynamic field theory over the course of an intense and fun week. The summer school covers everything from the basics of dynamic field theory up to our latest research projects. Students learn the theoretical background in informal lectures but the main emphasis of the summer school is hands-on work on exercises and individual projects. This gives students a lot of time to collaborate and discuss in small groups and under close supervision of our tutors.

Who is this summer school for?

The summer school is aimed at students at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level, postdocs and faculty members in the areas of embodied cognition, cognitive science, developmental science, cognitive neuroscience, developmental robotics, autonomous robotics, cognitive robotics, and anyone who wants to learn about dynamic field theory.

Impressions from previous schools


To apply for the summer school, please fill out our application form (black button on the right), enclosing a CV and a brief cover letter. In your letter you should briefly tell us what you are currently working on and why you would like to participate. This will help us propose a project that overlaps with your interest.


There is a fee of 80 EUR for the summer school. Included in this fee is a copy of our book "Dynamic Thinking - A Primer on Dynamic Field Theory". Additionally, participants will have to finance their own travel and stay in Bochum.

Structure of the school

The school is led by Prof. Gregor Schöner, who lectures on the concepts of DFT in the mornings. Afternoon sessions provide hands-on training working with dynamic field models in COSIVINA and CEDAR, our interactive simulation environments. Students develop their own projects during the school to learn how to apply the concepts of DFT to their home domain of interest.


For the hands-on work, the exercises and projects, we use numeric simulators. COSIVINA is a simulator for dynamic field theory that is based on Matlab and supports quick assembly of DFT models, for instance to account for human behavioral data.

The hands-on work is done in Matlab, to which a short tutorial introduction is provided.

More robotic projects can be implemented in the C++ based simulator CEDAR, which also features a graphical user interface in which core elements of DFT can be assembled without in-depth programming knowledge. For more advanced projects in CEDAR, basic knowledge of C++ is required.

Topics covered

Some of the topics that the summer school covers include:

  • Neural dynamics and basic attractor states
  • Dynamic fields
  • Introduction to COSIVINA and CEDAR
  • Links to neurophysiology and embodiment
  • Multi-dimensional fields and multi-layer dynamics
  • Spatial transformations and objects in a scene
  • Developmental dynamics and preferential looking
  • Sequence learning and higher level cognition


We will probably organize an informal welcome dinner on Sunday, August 25, some time in the evening. This is a good opportunity to meet the other students and tutors of the summer school in a relaxed setting before the school starts on the next day.


The schedule linked on this page is from last year's event but will be very similar. We will update it as soon as it is finalized.


08:00PM · 11:00PM: Welcome dinner


09:00AM · 09:30AM: Welcome (Gregor Schöner)

09:30AM · 11:00AM: Lecture: Introduction (Gregor Schöner)

11:30AM · 01:00PM: Lecture: Braitenberg and neural dynamics (Gregor Schöner)

01:00PM · 02:00PM: Lunch

02:00PM · 03:00PM: Exercise: neural dynamics (group)

03:00PM · 04:30PM: Lecture: Dynamic field theory: basic concepts, neural grounding (Gregor Schöner)

05:00PM · 06:30PM: Project presentation (Mathis Richter, group)

06:30PM · 08:00PM: (Project preparation)


09:00AM · 11:00AM: Lecture: Dynamic field theory: instabilities, memory trace (GregorSchöner)

11:30AM · 01:00PM: Exercise: dynamic field theory (group)

01:00PM · 02:00PM: Lunch

02:00PM · 03:30PM: Lecture: Embodied neural dynamics (Gregor Schöner)

03:30PM · 04:30PM: Exercise: embodied neural dynamics (group)

05:00PM · 06:30PM: Exercise: introduction to software (Mathis Richter, group)

06:30PM · 08:00PM: (Project preparation)


09:00AM · 11:00AM: Lecture: Higher dimensional fields and multi-layer fields (Gregor Schöner

11:30AM · 01:00PM: Lecture: Sequence generation (Gregor Schöner)

01:00PM · 02:00PM: Lunch

02:00PM · 08:00PM: Project work (free)

08:00PM · 10:00PM: Summer school dinner


09:00AM · 10:00AM: Lecture: Scene representation (Raul Grieben)

10:00AM · 11:00AM: Lecture: Higher cognition (Mathis Richter)

11:00AM · 01:00PM: Project work (free)

01:00PM · 02:00PM: Lunch

02:00PM · 08:00PM: Project work (free)


09:00AM · 10:00AM: Lecture: Mouse tracking to observe selection decisions (Jonas Lins)

10:00AM · 11:00AM: Lecture: A neural dynamic architecture for movement (Jan Tekülve)

11:00AM · 01:00PM: Project work (free)

01:00PM · 02:00PM: Lunch

02:00PM · 03:30PM: Project work (free)

03:30PM · 06:00PM: Project presentations