Talks at Hokkaido University

This week I was invited by Prof. Hiro Iizuka, on behalf of the Department of Information Science and Technology at Hokkaido University, to continue collaborations with the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems Engineering.

During my stay I will also give two public seminars:

15:00 on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Department of Information Science and Technology:

“Using big data to study the social mind: brain, language, and urbanism”

17:15 on Thursday, Feb. 23, Graduate School of Letters:

“The mysterious origins of the symbolic mind”

New paper on the irreducibility of social interaction dynamics

Exciting new paper written by members of the 4E Cognition Group…

4E Cognition Group

In an upcoming publication in the journals Frontiers in Psychology we present a couple of findings that challenge the prevalent idea that properties of social interaction can be explained in terms of individual properties alone.

Time series analysis of embodied interaction: Movement variability and complexity matching as dyadic properties

Leonardo Zapata-Fonseca, Dobromir G. Dotov, Ruben Y. Fossion, and Tom Froese

There is a growing consensus that a fuller understanding of social cognition depends on more systematic studies of real-time social interaction. Such studies require methods that can deal with the complex dynamics taking place at multiple interdependent temporal and spatial scales, spanning sub-personal, personal, and dyadic levels of analysis. We demonstrate the value of adopting an extended multi-scale approach by re-analyzing movement time series generated in a study of embodied dyadic interaction in a minimal virtual reality environment (a perceptual crossing experiment).

Reduced movement variability revealed an interdependence between social…

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Video memory of ALIFE XV in Cancun

Some impressions from this year’s International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE XV).

Launch of research group website

Since the beginning of last year I have been involved in the formation of a new research group dedicated to 4E cognition. We have finally launched our own website. Please click on the following link to know more about us:


International workshop on hallucinations

I was invited to give a talk at an international workshop on hallucinations, organized by Juan Gonzalez, at the Faculty of Humanities, UAEM, Cuernavaca.

Hallucinations: Inner fictions, outer realities, or something in between?

Tom Froese

Despite its stated intentions to the contrary, enactivist epistemology, especially in its early formulations, implicitly assumed the same kind of internalism about conscious experience that is inherent in the majority of approaches to cognitive science. On this view, there is no essential difference between a perceptual and a hallucinatory experience – at least not from the point of view of the subject. The difference lies in the external reality to which there is no access. More recently, enactivist epistemology has started to explicitly reject this view of consciousness in favor of a relational concept of consciousness, in which not only the brain but also body and environment shape our experiences. This view has the interesting consequence that perceptual and hallucinatory experience should in principle be phenomenologically distinguishable based on the status of the environment in relation to what is experienced. Conversely, a transformation of the subjective pole of this distributed subject-world relationship, for example during altered states of consciousness, would no longer be just internal and self-contained. In some cases it could therefore reveal otherwise hidden aspects of reality, which might be consistent with some shamanic interpretations of hallucinations.

Clarification of English translation of job title

It has come to my attention that some people have interpreted my translation of my current official Spanish job title (“Investigador Asociado C”) as the English title “Associate Professor” as motivated by self-aggrandizement. Nothing could be further from my mind.

The fact of the matter is that there is no officially sanctioned translation from my university, and there are different translations in use. For example, in a job advertisement of the same category of position, we find it translated as “full-time tenure-track assistant / associate professor”, whereas the more literal translation of “Research Associate” has instead been used in the context of calls for postdoctoral appointments. Nevertheless, I now realize that there are also institutes of the university that have reserved the translation of “Associate Professor” for the Spanish job title “Investigador Titular B” and I do not want to give the impression that I share their job title.

Accordingly, I have removed my English job translations from this website and from my CV. Until the university gives an official statement on the matter of how to translate UNAM job titles I will henceforth simply describe myself as being a “tenure-track faculty member”.

Series of seminars in Prague

The Department of Contemporary Continental Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences has invited me to give a series of seminars based on my research. The details can be found in the event poster:

Froese workshop in Prague

This trip is supported by a travel grant of the “Programa de Intercambio Académico de la Coordinación de la Investigación Científica” of UNAM.

Report about my research on social interaction in Spanish

Getting interaction theory (IT) together

Together with Shaun Gallagher I have published a position paper, which tries to draw together various strands of evidence in support of an enactive approach to social cognition:

Getting interaction theory (IT) together: Integrating developmental, phenomenological, enactive, and dynamical approaches to social interaction

Tom Froese and Shaun Gallagher

We argue that progress in our scientific understanding of the ‘social mind’ is hampered by a number of unfounded assumptions. We single out the widely shared assumption that social behavior depends solely on the capacities of an individual agent. In contrast, both developmental and phenomenological studies suggest that the personal-level capacity for detached ‘social cognition’ (conceived as a process of theorizing about and/or simulating another mind) is a secondary achievement that is dependent on more immediate processes of embodied social interaction. We draw on the enactive approach to cognitive science to further clarify this strong notion of ‘social interaction’ in theoretical terms. In addition, we indicate how this interaction theory (IT) could eventually be formalized with the help of a dynamical systems perspective on the interaction process, especially by making use of evolutionary robotics modeling. We conclude that bringing together the methods and insights of developmental, phenomenological, enactive and dynamical approaches to social interaction can provide a promising framework for future research.

You can download the paper by clicking on the title above.

ESCoP Summer School

I have been invited to host one day of the ESCoP Summer School on Dynamics of Consciousness, which will be held in Zakopane – Kiry, Poland, July 20-28, 2012. 

I will give an introduction to first- and second-person methods in the science of consciousness, and I will hold a practical workshop where participants can try out Explicitation Interview, Descriptive Experience Sampling, and other methods for themselves.

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