Neuronal Dynamics for Embodied Cognition 2021

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 September 6 to September 10 between 3:00 and 6:00 pm (UTC +2).

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 9-11. 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.


Core lectures, special lectures, and case studies presented by members of the INI   
  • Sophie Aerdker
  • Raul Grieben
  • Cora Hummert
  • Daniel Sabinasz
  • Gregor Schöner
  • Jan Tekülve 

Guest lectures by 

  • Yulia Sandamirskaya, Intel Corporation and INI Zürich at ETH/Uni Zürich 
  • John Spencer, Department of Psychology, University of East Anglia,UK


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
  • Higher cognition 
  • Sequence generation 


See separate tab, one for the school, one for the workshop. 


03:00PM (UTC+2) · 03:30PM (UTC+2): Welcome [Gregor Schöner]

03:30PM (UTC+2) · 05:30PM (UTC+2): Core lecture: DFT-Embodied Cognition [Gregor Schöner]

05:30PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Preparation of exercises [Daniel Sabinasz]


03:00PM (UTC+2) · 03:30PM (UTC+2): Exercises feedback [Daniel Sabinasz]

03:30PM (UTC+2) · 05:00PM (UTC+2): Core lecture: DFT-Higher Cognition [Gregor Schöner]

05:00PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Introduction to Cedar [Jan Tekülve]


03:00PM (UTC+2) · 03:30PM (UTC+2): Exercises feedback [Jan Tekülve]

03:30PM (UTC+2) · 05:30PM (UTC+2): Core lecture: DFT-Autonomy [Gregor Schöner]

05:30PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Workshop Project Overview


03:00PM (UTC+2) · 04:00PM (UTC+2): Guest lecture: The WOLVES model on Word-Object Learning via Visual Exploration in Space [John Spencer]

04:00PM (UTC+2) · 05:00PM (UTC+2): Special lecture: Scene representation and visual search [Raul Grieben]

05:00PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Special lecture: Models of grounded cognition [Daniel Sabinasz]


03:00PM (UTC+2) · 03:30PM (UTC+2): Case Study: Using mouse tracking to study visual search [Cora Hummert]

03:30PM (UTC+2) · 04:30PM (UTC+2): Special lecture: Neural process models of intentional states [Jan Tekülve]

04:30PM (UTC+2) · 05:00PM (UTC+2): Case Study: Action grammars in DFT [Sophie Aerdker]

05:00PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Guest lecture: Neuromorphic computing and neural dynamics [Yulia Sandamirskaya]


10:00AM (UTC+2) · 11:00AM (UTC+2): visit MI/SL


03:10PM (UTC+2) · 04:10PM (UTC+2): Augenartz Bhakti-Gerl

Lindenallee 6n45127 Essen


05:30PM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Project Presentation


10:00AM (UTC+2) · 11:00AM (UTC+2): Workshop Introduction

11:00AM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Live Tutoring


10:00AM (UTC+2) · 10:30AM (UTC+2): Open Q&A and Feedback

10:30AM (UTC+2) · 06:00PM (UTC+2): Live Tutoring


10:00AM (UTC+2) · 02:00PM (UTC+2): Live Tutoring (Limited)

03:00PM (UTC+2) · 04:30PM (UTC+2): Result Presentations

Welcome session

Lecture slides Welcome
Video Welcome session

Core lectures

Lecture slides DFT foundations: embodied cognition
Video DFT foundations: Part 1
Video DFT foundations: Part 2
Video DFT foundations: Part 3
Lecture slides DFT higher cognition
Video DFT higher cognition: Part 1
Video DFT higher cognition: Part 2
Lecture slides DFT autonomy
Video DFT autonomy
Exercises Exercise 1

An exercise sheet on the dynamics of neural nodes.

Exercises Exercise 2

An exercise sheet on the different dynamic regimes of a one-dimensional dynamic neural field.

Cedar Tutorial and Exercise

Exercises Cedar Tutorial and Exercise
Document CEDAR FAQ
Video Cedar tutorial
Configuration files Sample Solution Architecture File
Video Cedar exercise solution


Exercises Project: Visual Search
Configuration files Visual Search Sample Solution
Exercises Project: Spatial Language
Exercises Project: Reaching
Exercises Project: Serial Order
Configuration files Cedar Template File

This file is the basis of all cedar projects.

Configuration files Cedar Template for Mac

The virtual camera does not work under Mac unfortunately. Unfortunately it is not possible to do the reaching project with this template.

Exercises Project: Simon Effect (Cosivina)
Document Background Reading: Spatial Language Project

Autonomous Neural Dynamics to Test Hypotheses in a Model of Spatial Language by Mathis Richter, Jonas Lins, Sebastian Schneegans, Yulia Sandamirskaya, and Gregor Schöner

Document Background Reading: Simon Effect Project

Dynamic Field Theory of Movement Preparation by Wolfram Erlhagen and Gregor Schöner