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Year 1 – Issue 1 – May 2011



by Orazio Miglino

WORK IN PROGRESS - An overview of the activity of the Institutes and Research An overview of the activity of the Institutes and Research Laboratories

Embodied cognition: understanding the body


Toward a ʻplanetary brainʼ. Social simulation through intelligent agents


LET’S TALK ABOUT IT WITH… Cristiano Castelfranchi UpDate is NewsLetter of AISC. Published quarterly, it reports on joint actions of the AISC partners, and aims to reflect the contribution made by AISC to the European Community in Cognitive Sciences. To advertise conferences, events or a projects, please send an email to:

AISC – Editorial Board: Chairman Orazio Miglino Vice Chairman Alberto Greco

Special focus on the 10th anniversary of the AISC

A new challenge for Cognitive Sciences


EUROPROJECT - Italy and Cognitive Science in the European context ProaActive project

A farewell to books: learning is a (video)game.


WHAT’S UP? - Associational life of the AISC

AiscBook: Scientists Discovering Themselves




Treasurer Federico Cecconi Secretary Nicola Lettieri Members Cesare Bianchi Rosaria Conte Marco Cruciani Marcello Frixione Francesco Gagliardi Pietro Terna Made by:

Members of the editorial staff Cristian Fuschetto Romualdo Gianoli Stefano Pisani Vincenzo Napolano CodiCS, Agency for Scientific Communication and Divulgation. Publishing, journalism, research, training, art, CodiCS projects and develops the best tools to spread every aspect of scientific research through appropriate and innovative channels. Visit

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and theCommission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Editorial by Orazio Miglino

ooking at AISC records, this year the Italian Association of Cognitive Sciences celebrates its ninth year of life, even though its history is much longer. In Italy, since the mid seventies of last century a community of scientists starts who tried to address the explanation of cognitive processes in natural and artificial systems from an interdisciplinary perspective. In those years, thanks to the pioneering work of some Italian researchers as Domenico Parisi, Francesco Antinucci and Cristiano Castelfranchi, cognition was studied by integrating contributions from various disciplines (i.e. linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy).


Since then, the Italian community is more and more present in the international debate, bringing in a feature that is also reflected in the name of our Association, which itself shows a clear choice: to privilege the multidisciplinary and "plural" approach to Cognitive Science. In this way the founders of our community stressed the importance of multiple points of observation for the subject of this study. The idea of establishing a new science, unitary in the method and object of investigation, is then put in a second stage. Personally I agree with this approach, even though it is must be said that the debate on how to consider our field of investigation is still on. However, the cultural vivacity is a fundamental characteristic of living and productive communities. More generally, today, people wonder why cognitive scientists who propose to break down barriers between disciplines have formed a national association which, paradoxically, enhances the “territoriality” of a scientific community. Culture, Science, Arts should build a world without borders and flags, shouldn’t they? The answer is definitely yes, but every state has its own organization that regulates life and death of higher education centres and research facilities. Inevitably, any national system of higher education and research affects the development of scientific disciplines. In Italy we have 85 universities and around twenty research institutions. These institutions should support the growth of our society through continuous cultural and scientific inputs. Often, as we know, this does not happen. The bureaucratic superstructure of our universities and research discourages any attempt of innovation, science and culture development. National Scientific Associations, as is the AISC, have the role of prodding, stimulating and innovating its body of reference, in order to extend it to new domains of scientific research. This is a major (though not exclusively) function of AISC. On the other hand it is essential to maintain a direct link with the international community, as it is important that we don’t fall in a closed nationalism. In order to grow we had to expose ourselves to criticism and suggestions that can not only come from ourselves or from our neighbours. For this reason, this year the AISC has decided to promote and sponsor a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter will be published in English and Italian and has the ambition to become a virtual place of exchange of information for anyone interested in Cognitive Science without discrimination of nationality and language. I hope that this new initiative can help to develop new relationships, friendships, challenges.

Prof. Orazio Miglino University of Naples "Federico II" and Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council



An overview of the activity of the Institutes and Research


ISTC 10th anniversary

Embodied cognition: understanding the body by Stefano Pisani

Giovanni Pezzullo

Anna Borghi

mbodied cognition (EC) is an innovative theoretical approach which is currently challenging the traditional cognitive theories. Based on the embodied theories of cognition, concept formation arises not only from mental operations acting on abstract representations: we can understand also thanks to our bodies and our actions. «A common assumption shared by all the theories connected with the EC – as Giovanni Pezzulo, from ILC-CNR and ISTC-CNR, explains – is that “high” cognition, responsible for the reasoning process and the abstract thinking, isn’t implemented in the brain separately from the sensorimotor system. Actually, the structures developed in order to act the world – to move, look for food and so on - are re-used in the most abstract mental operations». This is a very stimulating field of research, which has developed for the last 15 years and whose special interest also lies in its multidisciplinary approach. Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Robotics, Computational Models and Neuroscience are some of the scientific fields that have acknowledged and took advantage of the influence of embodied theories. Some recent articles appeared in international reviews - such as Topics in Cognitive Science - show that during the last 15 years a large number of scientific publications in this field have focused on the EC approach. This new vision involves a wider interconnection between the “high” cognition and the sensorimotor behaviour domain. In contrast to the previous theories that focused on the high cognitive processes acting on abstract symbols, the embodied theories acknowledge the more complex role played by the basic sensorimotor structures, which to date had not been considered as a part of the process of conceptualization. «It’s not a question of two different systems of representation, the sensorimotor acting at a lower level and the symbolic at a higher one –Pezzullo says. On the contrary, sensorimotor representations and body schemas are re-used in an increasingly complex manner for all the cognitive operations». So, in order to have a clear understanding of the cognitive processes, «we can’t just focus on the analysis of the mental processes. We also need to study the neural activation patterns of these processes, as well as the way they’re implemented at the body level, because actually it’s also through our body that we can know» explains Anna Borghi, from the Department of Psychology, University of Bologna. Many researchers have recently extended the embodied vision to other domains, by showing how the emotional and affective processes – strictly linked to the body - also play a key role in cognition. THE EXPERIMENTS The concept of «body movements as a functional part of comprehension» is widely confirmed in a large number of experiments conducted by scientists in this field. « For example, in one of them a series of words – some of which were nonexistent - was displayed on a screen. The subjects were asked to pull a lever toward themselves in case the word existed or, otherwise, push the lever toward the monitor. When the word “near” was displayed, the reaction time needed to identify the word was much faster. This depends on the congruence between the action and the word (the subjects had to bring the lever nearer to themselves): the action congruent with the word meaning was performed faster, which means that word comprehension occurs also through the body and its actions» Pezzulo says. «In another experiment a volunteer is asked to read a sentence and subsequently perform an action, so that we can assess the impact of the sentence on the movement he is asked to do, using a motion tracking. Most of the observed effects are unconscious: we don’t realize that our sensorimotor system responds differently to different sentences (e.g., “to kick the ball” and “to throw the ball”). It’s a difference of milliseconds, however when we read the sentence “to kick the ball”, there is a pre-activation of the leg, depending not only on the brain, but also on the body motor response. The process isn’t limited to the brain: the sensorimotor system activation is also needed to understand the sentence “to kick the ball”», Borghi adds. ROBOTICS AND FUTURE During the 80’s Robotics had to face some important issues. Robots showed some behavioural defects resulting from the symbolic nature of the environmental representation based on which their “minds” had been programmed. «At a given moment there was a sort of revolution leading toward the EC vision: classic robots, based on abstract representations programmed beforehand, were replaced by new machines able to develop a sensorimotor interaction with the world. They started from “basic” operations, by learning very simple behaviours that, however, could be re-used in more and more complex operations» Pezzulo says. We can see a clear affinity with the embodied theories. Actually, a decade later, EC and Robotics have acknowledged their shared assumptions and decided to cooperate. «This new “alliance” of model creators and robot creators together with computational and experimental model experts (i.e. the researchers planning the psychological experiments) is of great importance » Pezzulo adds. The embodied theorists are currently testing their hypotheses about human learning on the robots, as well as Robotics is taking advantage of the theoretical developments in the field of Embodied Cognition to create more and more precise machines. Both of them aiming for their next goal: a robot with a human-like behaviour.



An overview of the activity of the Institutes and Research



ISTC 10th anniversary

Toward a ‘planetary brain’. Social simulation through intelligent agents by Vincenzo Napolano

nderstanding, predicting and intervening in social phenomena could become again a prominent scientific challenge, grounded on a sound cognitive basis. This is the shared opinion of a large number of scientists worldwide, though the methods and solutions they propose to obtain this result are very different. Rosaria Conte, a researcher from the CNR Institute of Science and Technologies of Cognition (Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione) has been internationally one of the pioneers of the agent-based social simulation and she is now convinced that this new need of social scientists to reestablish a strict scientific approach is a great opportunity. Though based on different theories, models and technologies, computer simulation of social phenomena is undoubtedly an essential tool for social science research. «The first simulations of social phenomena – says Rosaria Conte – date back to the ‘60s, with the cellular automata model, borrowed from biology. Initially automata are functions linked to a specific position in the space, but they quickly turn into agents able to move and interact according to preset but heterogeneous behavioral patterns». A simulation based on this kind of agents can reproduce complex social behaviors and reveal, for example, how racial segregation can arise Rosaria Conte from a community of non racist individuals, or how cooperation can prevail in an artificial population of “selfish” agents. «These important results – adds Conte – paved the way to simulations with more and more complex agents, whose behavior was based on their internal representation of reality and even on the consequences of their own actions. Then, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was a closer and fruitful interaction with Cognitive Science, intended to model more and more advanced agents». The next step in the effort to realistically reproduce the social complexity will be to incorporate and represent also the feedback on the minds of the “social system agents”. The building up of the State, Institutions and Laws, the mechanisms of punishment and sanction, or even the development of social organizations based on the racket, are social phenomena that have been all simulated and reproduced through this kind of model, but at the cost of a high computational and algorithmic complexity, which is sometimes difficult to manage. «These models are not only of high complexity, but also of great difficulty – declares Rosaria Conte – with such a large number of parameters that comparing the achieved results with the measured quantities and real values is sometimes very hard. Moreover, in almost all cases simulations are not based on exact mathematical models. Over recent years these two issues have led to a halt in the development of Intelligent Agent Simulation. However, I think it is the only method allowing us to deeply understand why and how social phenomena are generated». In order to make this method more efficient, two alternative approaches are available: in the more traditional approach, the simulation of social systems is to be based on the game theory models; in a more recent approach, social phenomena are to be described through physical and mathematical models involving a large number of microscopic variables; with this new method, thus, the social phenomena are treated as statistical macroscopic results of lower level entities. This is the reason why some physicians and computer scientists, as well as cognitive and social scientists, have undertaken such an ambitious and visionary project as “FuturICT”. This is one of the six projects currently submitted to obtain record funding of a billion Euros over ten years from the “ICT FET Flagships Initiative”, a European Union program aiming to select the two research projects of highest scientific value and widest multidisciplinary approach. «FuturICT – says Rosaria Conte, who played a leading role in organizing the project – is intended to create a great simulator of our planet and of its environmental, demographic, medical and social phenomena, on a global level. Our proposal involves many local observatories, whose task will be to constantly monitor the investigated processes and transfer the observed data to the compute nodes of a “planetary brain”, which in its turn will simulate future developments and scenarios in almost real time». One can easily imagine the importance of this approach in terms of social, health and environmental politics. «In a large number of the investigated processes, we’ll probably be able to achieve effective simulations and predictions while bypassing the problem of agents», concludes Rosaria Conte. «However, in order to understand what gives rise to some social phenomena such as the democratization processes or the proliferation of criminal organizations and what are the ways to transform the individual behaviors underlying these processes, we absolutely need to modify the agent’s cognitive model and finally understand what determines our social behaviors».



Let’s talk about it with… Cristiano Castelfranchi

A new challenge for Cognitive Sciences ISTC 10th anniversary interview by Vincenzo Napolano

ongoing? Ten years later we’re more and more aware that all these research fields involve - and sometimes are even based on – a cognitive description of Mind. For example, how can we think to analyze social dynamics or plan social intervention policies without a cognitive model of the individual? Moreover, how can we develop technological systems without considering the way they will affect people mentality, habits and behaviours? That is, without considering the specific cognitive aspects involved in any kind of technology applied to human contexts? I think we won’t be able to really mediate and support the most complex aspects of human interaction until we gain a better understanding of it. And to do this, we’ll probably have to incorporate a larger number of characteristics of human interaction into our artificial entities, as it is already happening thanks to the most recent developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Actually, the Cognitive Science “revolution” has provided important results in many fields: from Cognitive Linguistic to Cognitive Anthropology and from Cognitive Sociology to Cognitive Economics - a field in which two Nobel Prizes have been awarded. It has been shown that it is very difficult to make progresses in all these fields without knowing what happens in people’s mind, that is without understanding what are the cognitive processes underlying the social interactions being studied. So I think that, though in new forms, our first challenge is always ongoing.

he ISTC, the CNR Cognitive Science and Technology Institute, is now ten years old. It is the anniversary of an Institution that has been able to integrate several Institutes and research groups which seemed to be very heterogeneous. But there is more. This Institute was really a scientific challenge. And according to Cristiano Castelfranchi, ISTC director since 2001, this challenge has been successfully faced and that is the main reason to celebrate this anniversary. This was the opening remark of Castelfranchi, who played a leading role first in the development of the CNR famous Psychology Institute and then in establishing an exchange between the newly born ISTC and the international scientific context.


What do you exactly mean by “scientific challenge”? The challenge was to believe in the scientific paradigm of Cognitive Science. That is, in the possibility of a scientific metalevel allowing us to integrate models, methods and data from different disciplines, such as Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Cybernetics and, obviously, Psychology, toward a unified Theory of Mind. Instead of focusing on the modelling of specific functions – which was the approach used in Psychology - we paid our attention on the, so to speak, “architectural” aspects. Since the time of the old Psychology Institute, new research groups have been formed – such as Artificial Intelligence and Primatology – spontaneously adopting this new point of view. The discussion and cooperation with other Institutes and research teams – such as the ones of Phonetics and Dialectology based in Padua, the ontology ones from Trento and Rome as well as several Neuroscience teams - helped us to define our scientific positions and the context for our work. Ten years later, could we say that your challenge is still

What is the objective of that challenge in the current development of the new Institute? For many years Cognitivism has been at the fore front of a cultural transformation process, and the ISTC has been one of the leading Institutions in this process, by operating not only in Italy, but also at international level - especially since 6

the late 1970s - thanks to Domenico Parisi team. In the history of the Institute, the shared cognitive approach resulted in fruitful cooperation between (seemingly) different research fields and methods, for example in the studies on primates and Robotics, in the confrontation between Environmental Psychology and Artificial Intelligence studies on Man-Machine Interaction, in the interaction between the linguistics team and the researchers specialized in the study of emotions, as well as in the comparative studies on temporal choices and preferences in humans and primates. Another interesting cooperation – which is still a work in progress - is that between the researchers dealing with the social analysis of contexts like poverty, childhood, deviance and the Agent-based Social Simulation teams. The opportunity to work in parallel groups and share results has opened new and unexpected frontiers in all research areas of the ISTC. Our results have been excellent, and I’m sure that we’re going to achieve even better ones.

microscopic biological structures of the brain in detail, as well as to simulate its connections and interactions through more and more complex and accurate mathematical models. However, mind can be viewed as a stratified object, composed of several levels of increasing complexity. Even a full understanding of the primary level – i.e., the neural interaction level - doesn’t allow us to neglect a macroscopic description – i.e, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, purposes, etc. – Though Cognitive Science notions need to be grounded on the results of Neural Research, the fact of being traced back to the underlying biological processes doesn’t affect their own independent value. On the contrary, they should be a point of reference for Neuroscience, which otherwise risks to limit its task to the supposed determination of scientifically unclear properties and categories, or to a “brain geography” of little interest. The studies on the different levels of the Mind seem to share a common tool: the Computer Simulation The widespread use of Computer Simulation in Cognitive Science is undoubtedly another great innovation of the last decades. I think this tool is currently acknowledged as the most appropriate to reproduce – and maybe to capture – the essence of mental processes and moreover, to simulate the interaction between several minds, the resulting feedback on each agent, etc., with levels of efficacy unlikely to be achieved through other mathematical methods. Then we can say that the ISTC made a winning choice ten years ago: today the analyses we perform through computer simulations can be integrated and compared with the simulations produced by Information and Artificial Intelligence research teams. Computer Simulation is currently one of the most unifying elements in the Institute activity, and the sign that the studies being conducted are still of topical interest.

However, the choices made at that time gave rise to a heated debate… Yes, of course. The ISTC has always aimed to stimulate a heated debate and a lively discussion on different – and sometimes opposite - scientific approaches. Though the initial goal of the Institute was to promote a cognitive approach, this didn’t interfere with the rapid development of scientific opinions based on the most different methods. This cultural climate had a very positive influence on the training of our young researchers, who are currently more integrated into the international scientific debate than their “instructors” were at that time and have developed suitable tools to deal with the new challenges facing Cognitive Science. So, what are these challenges? For example, we’re trying to overcome the limits of the traditional cognitive approach and to show how our mental representations involve a sensorimotor component and can’t be separated from the body, as well as they can’t be considered apart from our interaction with the social context producing the most part of the information and knowledge we acquire, express and process. The understanding and representation of Mind must be grounded in the body and in the social context.

I suppose you have many young researchers? This is the very problem we are facing now. Though all our teams include many young researchers, we can’t offer them suitable career opportunities because of the poor financial resources assigned to the Institute. The average age of the researchers working for our Institute with a permanent position is 52 - or 48, if we add the researchers working with a temporary contract. And this is not only embarrassing, but it could also be a threat for the development of some key lines of research. If we recognize the importance of Cognitive Science in the understanding of Mind, maybe we should accept a new challenge and invest much more in our brilliant young researchers.

However, in recent years there has been a rapid growth of neuroscientific knowledge. Don’t you think this could be a threat for those who consider the cognitive approach to be the most complete? There is an increasing ability to understand and describe the 7





Italy and Cognitive Science in the European context


A farewell to books: learning is a (video)game. ProActive, the project that will turn teachers into game creators by Cristian Fuschetto

or the best students it’s already like this. For the others it will soon be the same. Teaching and learning as a game is the dream of both teachers and students. Proactive is making this dream come true. Proactive (Fostering Teachers' Creativity through Game-Based Learning) is a European Project started in January 2010, which will allow teachers and trainers to give a new dimension to their jobs, together with more success and fun. Its goal is to renew teaching methods through the most advanced tools of game-based learning (GBL) and get teachers to carry out this change – instead of being considered as the passive gear of a static system, they’ll play a leading role in the renewal of the traditional didactic practice, by creating learning environments similar to videogames. In the prevailing paradigm of didactics, teaching has always been considered as the abstract transfer of knowledge. Recent studies have shown that in their daily task teachers tend to apply and combine many strategies, such as imitation, acquisition, participation, exercising and discovery. GBL encourages and stimulates teachers’ potential for creativity, allowing them to combine the learning processes with the kind of motivation and involvement typical of a play context. A farewell to books? Not really, though videogames are turning out to be an incredibly effective tool in the promotion of active learning. It has been shown that a well-structured game, based on a narrative framework, can motivate learning through role-play strategies, improve the problem solving skills through the search for creative solutions in a challenging context, encourage self-fulfilment and promote students/players’ autonomy, by giving them the opportunity to direct their own actions and manage their experience, along with the advantage of an immediate feedback. A large number of teachers and trainers from Italy, Romania, Spain and United Kingdom – all involved in programmes like


Comenius, Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci - will take part to this project, which is promoted by the University of Barcelona, the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, the University of Naples “Federico II”, the Centre for Advanced Software Technology Limited of Bangor (UK) and the University of Bucarest, and coordinated by Dr. EUTOPIA editor Mario Barajas, from the Department of Didactics, University of Barcelona. Teachers from Junior and Senior High School, University professors and vocational education trainers are being trained to use ICT tools in order to design new learning environments. In the pilot sites, monitored by the University of Madrid and the University of Naples, learning scenarios are created using the graphical editors <e-Adventure> and Eutopia, so as to develop edu<Piattaforma e-Adventure>editor cational games aiming to teach soft skills. Moreover, some major companies are also involved in this project, including Somac, a fast growing firm in North Wales. Somac has recognised that the impact of a lot of training is often lost because of the boring ways in which it is often delivered, thus the company has acknowledged the value of game-based learning. 8




Italy and Cognitive Science in the European context




ProActive Fostering Teachers’ Creativity th hG B dL i

ProActive kick-off. Barcellona 28-29th of January 2010

After many workshops where teachers and trainers could explore the pedagogical and technical approach of ProActive, the GBL basic concepts and the use of the five learning metaphors (imitation, acquisition, participation, exercising and discovery), the next step will be to get teachers used to game editors and stimulate them to create their first games through the tools provided. Initial results of this phase will be reported by all partners in the next project meeting which will be held in Naples next month. First results from ProActive were presented in several international events, including: the EC-TEL 2010 Conference, held in Barcelona (September 30, 2010), where Prof. Mario Barajas described this experience in the following talk: “From game-based learning to augmented reality learning: Pedagogical Underpinnings of two European Projects”; the SINAPSI Conference, held in Rome (October 8, 2010) and focused on videogames and simulations as new learning environments; and the 4th International Conference EDUWORLD 2010, held at the University of Pitesti, Romania (October 8-9, 2010), whose subject was the paper by M. Logofatu, A. Dumitrache and M. Gheorghe, entitled “GBL in education”.

Coordinators Mario Barajas Frutos University of Barcellona

Professor Mario Barajas is the lead investigator of the coordinating team of PROACTIVE. He is a Doctor in Education and professor in the the Department of Didactics at the University of Barcelona. Co-director of the post-graduate course ‘Knowledge, Science and citizenship in the Information Society’, he teaches in the doctoral programme ‘Diversity a Change in education.

Italian partners involved in the Project Alessandra Talamo

Alessandra Delli Veneri

Contact for the Italian partner (La Sapenza DPPSS) of the ProActive Project

Contact for the Italian partner (Unina) of the ProActive Project

Alessandra Delli Veneri, psychologist psychotherapist, PhD, holds a research grant at the Department of Theories and Methods of Human and Social Sciences of the University of Naples “Federico II”. She is a member of the Natural and Artificial Cognition Lab where she works on learning processes facilitated by new technologies. She manages NAC’s research projects and their application in society.

Alessandra Talamo is Associate Professor at the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology of the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. She got a Phd in Experimental Pedagogy working on educational cooperation inside the school. Her research activities deal with social ergonomics applied to educational and organizational cooperation in Computer Mediated Communication and Virtual Environments. Alessandra coordinates the IDEaCT (Interaction DEsign and Communication Tecnologies) multidisciplinary lab.


W A T H ’ S


Associational life of the AISC

AiscBook: Scientists Discovering Themselves by Romualdo Gianoli

hat gives birth to a new project of cooperation, communication and sharing of science? It’s often a good idea, together with a bit of (preferably youthful) enthusiasm and some fortuitous events. These three elements have combined in the AISC Junior, the Young Italian Researchers Division of the AISC - the Italian Society of Cognitive Science - (Associazione Italiana di Scienze Cognitive). We want to tell you how this initiative started, and we’ll begin with the last element, the most unforeseeable. In the middle of the winter 2008, the AISC Meeting was held on a hill in the neighbourhood of Turin. For the first time some young researchers in the field attended this event, driven by the curiosity and desire to interact with people having a longer experience in the same field. It happened that a heavy snowfall prevented the members from leaving the meeting location. What a better opportunity to exchange ideas and impressions? So, the result of this weather/brainstorming was the idea to create a group of young cognitive scientists. But what would have been their objective? First of all, giving a new boost to the Society, driving a wave of innovation in the Aisc by making it more dynamic and organised, also through the use of “new” technologies (above all, the Internet) as the primary tool for interaction. But what did this involve? The first step would have been to involve as many young Italian cognitive scientists as possible, in order to promote scientific initiatives and popularization projects arousing new interest and encouraging cooperation. The idea was good, but we soon realised that we didn’t know who these young scientists were and where they worked. At that time nobody knew it, simply because nobody had ever wondered about it: everybody was absorbed in his own research and was lacking of communication with the outer world. There were some exceptions, of course: from now on, they would have had to become the rule. Once the snow thawed, the conference members said goodbye and parted with the intention of solving this problem. Their first work-tool was really basic, a mailing list through which they began to exchange ideas about their project and organize virtual meetings, as well as collect scientific and professional information about research fellows, research assistants, Ph.Ds, Ph.D students as well as professors engaged in the field of cognitive science research in Italy and abroad. This was the start of what would have become later the most innovative and wide project designed by the AiscJunior: the AiscBook, the search engine for Italian experts in Cognitive Science. It wasn’t so easy to find these people (we received only 300-400 answers out of 1000 people contacted by email), but after a careful and hard research throughout Universities and Research Institutions, we created a sort of directory, the first database indicating “who makes what” in the field of Italian Cognitive Science. It was a remarkable milestone, leading to the great success (also in terms of number of participants) of the following Aisc Meeting, held in Naples in 2009 and attended by a great number of new registered members, enrolled through our mailing list. The Meeting was also a chance to formalize the creation of the Junior Scientists Group in the Aisc: the AiscJ. Currently AiscBook is in ongoing development and represents the only tool to obtain information relevant to the professional qualification, research interests, publications and job location of the searched person. You just have to type his/her name in the search field, or you can type the subject you’re interested in and retrieve the names of the researchers involved in it. Young people are like this: they love to be quick, practical and, last but not least, transparent!







Technology, Human Sciences and Health Sciences


Milan, December 1-2

NETLOGO. The simulation of social and economic phenomena

The Italian Association for Cognitive Science invites all interested to attend the 8th AISC National Meeting, 2011 – Technology, Human Sciences and Health Sciences – which will be held on December 1-2, 2011 at the Università degli Studi di Milano (University of Milan). This year’s Meeting will be especially focused on investigating the relationship between Technology, Human Sciences and Health Sciences. Indeed, over the last years the interaction between these different ‘cultures’ has become the prime mover of technological innovation, leading to new lifestyles, both in personal and social life. For further information, visit the Italian Association for Cognitive Science website:

Rome, September 12 to 16

Opinion Dynamics

June 20 to 24, ROME

The course aimed at students in the following disciplines: Economics, Social Sciences, Communication and Education, Physics, Philosophy. We welcome researchers and policy experts / resource management. The course delivers credits . A week of the course to learn: i) how to create simulations of agents in NetLogo environment, ii) to analyze the results with tools for statistical and reporting. The course does not have prior knowledge of programming. During the lessons are conducted numerous exercises with the tools and techniques. The lessons have a strong interdisciplinary character and are not tied to particular models. The focus is all on instruments. If you need information or have any questions for us, contact us at

Within a week of the course, we describe the models (and techniques) that identify the state of the art in the study of the diffusion of news, cultural traits, opinions, preferences. This training is geared to those working on issues of policy (for example the way in which converge the opinions) and to those interested to the economic / cultural (eg marketing problems on the network). The course does not require previous technical knowledge, and is particularly aimed at people who study / work in the areas of social patterns, economics, policy studies. Applications are welcome from students of hard science (eg Physics), as well as the participation of students from Philosophy. The course has a strong interdisciplinary character and has a limited number of students (maximum fifteen).

Contact for More Information:

Rome, 17-18 November 2011

The ProActive final conference - Games and Creativity in Education and Training. The ProActive final conference - Games and Creativity in Education and Training (GACET’11) is a refereed scientific conference acting as a forum for scientists, engineers, and practitioners to present their latest research, results, ideas and developments on games and learning. The focus will be on the use of educational games in creative teaching methodologies. The conference will be held in Rome on November 17-18, 2011. For more onformation, visit the GACET'11 conference website:


he main goal of AISC (Associazione Italiana di Scienze Cognitive) is to promote Cognitive Science in Italy in research and its applications. Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary approach to the studies of behavior and cognition which recognizes the added value of going beyond the boundaries of the individual disciplines dedicated to the studies of behavior and cognitive capacities. By doing so, various approaches, theories, methods and empirical data from each discipline are compared and converged. The disciplines comprising the field of Cognitive Science include Psychology, Linguistics, Social Sciences, Neuroscience, Biology, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy.


Moreover, Cognitive Science creates a bond between the studies of behavior and cognition as they are expressed in humans and their society and how they are reproduced in artificial systems which have the aim of better understanding natural and social phenomena and creating novel technologies. The Italian Association of Cognitive Science pursues its objective by organizing annual scientific conferences as well as more specific workshops, interest groups and training activities, establishing a network between Cognitive Science in Italy and the rest of the

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Aisc-net Newsletter N°1

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Aisc-net Newsletter N°1