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Spring School 2018

Language, Music, and Cognition: Organizing Events in Time

Date: From February 26th to March 2nd, 2018
Location: University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Application deadline: December 31st, 2017
Please find more details here.

General description
This spring school is one part of our interdisciplinary education program in language and music cognition research called Language and Music in Cognition ( In this project, we aim at clarifying interfaces between complex cognitive systems music and language in relation to other cognitive domains such as motor and social cognition.

Language and music cognition research involves a wide range of disciplines including musicology, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, and biology, and thus requires close collaboration among different research fields. Although language and music cognition research has gained attention recently, there is still little opportunity for students and young researchers to acquire a wide range of knowledge. Therefore, the current Spring School aims at acting as a platform for knowledge transfer and exchange in this relatively new interdisciplinary research area.

The current spring school especially focuses on language, speech, and music as “ways of ordering events in time” (Arbib et al., 2013: 382). Imagine you are listening to your friend talking about her amazing date yesterday, listening to a Jazz band in an open air concert, making a coffee for your break from writing a paper, or enjoying a conversation / music making in a group. In each case, you are processing temporal sequences, i.e. integrating incoming events in time. For example, words are integrated sequentially to understand a sentence, notes are integrated to make sense of a musical phrase, subactions are integrated to complete a main action, and individual sentences or phrases are incorporated into dynamics of conversational or joint musical co-construction. This seems very trivial and evident, but problems relating to this issue are far less simple and require investigations according to the following research questions:

What are computational, cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying temporal organization?
How does the ability of temporal organization develop in ontogeny?
How did the mechanisms underlying temporal organization evolve?
What is the adaptive significance of temporal organization?

These issues are discussed from the perspectives of computer science, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, comparative evolutionary biology, and social cognition. In particular, the current spring schools investigates temporal organization in language, speech, and music by focusing on syntax, prosody (rhythm and pitch), action, parsing, and organization of verbal and nonverbal communication such as turn-taking. Moreover, we extend the scope of our discussion to other species such as non-human primates and birds to explore the biological foundations of temporal organization in a full range.

Topics and confirmed lecturers
Comparative evolutionary biology
Chris Petkov (Newcastle University, UK)
Constance Scharff (Free University of Berlin, Germany)
Social cognition
Ian Cross (University of Cambridge, UK)
Kai Vogeley (University of Cologne, Germany)
Developmental psychology
Maria Teresa Guasti (University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy)
Barbara Höhle (University of Potsdam, Germany)
Cognitive neuroscience of speech, language, and communication
Sonja Kotz (Maastricht University, Netherlands)
Daniela Sammler (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany)
Computational and biological approaches to language and music
Cedric Boeckx (University of Barcelona, Spain)
Uwe Seifert (University of Cologne, Germany)

Target group
Bachelor students
Master students
PhD students
Post-doc researchers

We will accept around 50 participants according to the quality of their application.

If you have general questions regarding this spring school, please contact:
Rie Asano (rie.asano(at)