Annual summer school

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.


To apply for the summer school, please send a two-page CV and brief cover letter to 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 usually no fee for the summer school but 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


Our annual DFT summer school will take place September 10-14, 2018 at the Institut für Neuroinformatik in Bochum, Germany. The deadline for applications has passed and all our slots are already filled. If you are interested, please consider applying for the summer school in 2019.


For general inquiries about our annual summer school, please contact Mathis Richter.

Impressions from previous schools