Neuronal Dynamics for Embodied Cognition 2020

Our annual summer school gives students an in-depth look at dynamic field theory over the course of a single week. The summer school covers everything from the basics of dynamic field theory up to our latest research projects. 

This virtual edition of our summer school will consist of two parts: A live-lecture series and a hands-on workshop.

The lecture series will be held as a video conference and provides a step-by-step introduction to Dynamic Field Theory. It is open to everyone; you only have to register with your email address. Lectures will take place from August 31 to September 4 between 3:00 and 6:00 pm (CET).

The two-and-a-half-day project workshop gives students the opportunity to put the newly acquired skills to use in a concrete hands-on modeling project. Students solve the task in our open-source simulation environment under the guidance of a personal tutor. The one-on-one tutoring limits the number of participants who can take part in the workshop. To apply, please fill out the online application form, which asks for a cover letter and a CV as well as some other information that we use to prepare projects for you. We encourage workshop applications by small groups of participants, maybe two or three colleagues who will work together locally on the same project and may share a tutor. All participants of such a group should apply separately and list their potential group partners in the application form. The workshop will take place September 3-5. Personal tutoring via video conference will be available on each workshop day at flexible hours.

Participation in any part of the school is free of charge.

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.

Structure of the school

The school is led by Prof. Gregor Schöner, who lectures on the basic concepts of DFT in the live lecture series. Workshop sessions provide hands-on training working with dynamic field models in COSIVINA and CEDAR, our interactive simulation environments. Students learn to create a dynamic field model from the ground up and 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.

Models based on larger field architectures can be implemented in the C++ based simulator CEDAR, which 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


The schedule linked on this page is from last year's event but we will roughly follow it this year as well. We will update it as soon as it is finalized.


03:00PM · 04:00PM: Introduction

04:00PM · 05:30PM: Braitenberg

05:30PM · 06:00PM: Preparation of exercises


03:00PM · 03:30PM: Dynamics exercise feedback

03:30PM · 06:00PM: Dynamic field theory


03:00PM · 03:30PM: DFT exercise feedback

03:30PM · 04:30PM: Embodied neural dynamics

04:30PM · 05:30PM: Higher dimensional neural fields

05:30PM · 06:00PM: Sequence generation


03:00PM · 03:30PM: Case study 1: Scene representation

03:30PM · 04:00PM: Case study 2: Higher cognition

04:00PM · 06:00PM: Workshop live tutoring


03:00PM · 03:30PM: Case study 3: Compositionality

03:30PM · 04:00PM: Case study 4: Intentionality

04:00PM · 06:00PM: Workshop live tutoring


03:00PM · 04:30PM: Workshop live tutoring

04:30PM · 06:00PM: Workshop project presentations