Plenary Speakers

DPZ Göttingen

Julia Fischer


Julia Fischer obtained her PhD from the FU Berlin in 1996. After postdoctoral positions at the University of Pennsylvania and the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, she was offered a joint appointment as professor for Primate Cognition at the University of Göttingen and as head of the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory the German Primate Center. With her team, she established the field site Simenti in Senegal. Her research focuses on the cognition, communication, and social behavior of nonhuman primates. She is vice president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science. In 2013, she received the Grüter-Prize for Science Communication. Her book “Monkeytalk” (Chicago University Press, 2017) provides insights into her field of research for a broader audience. 

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Onur Güntürkün


Onur is a Turkish-born Professor for Biopsychology at Bochum University (Germany). He is kept awake with questions like: “Can different kinds of brains produce the same cognition?” or “Why are brains asymmetrically organized?”. He has spent many years in different universities on five continents and work (in descending order) with pigeons, humans, dolphins, crocodiles and magpies as experimental subjects. He would call himself a Cognitive Comparative Neuroscientist, who does research that reaches from field work via single cell recordings, up to ultrahigh magnetic field imaging. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and received numerous national and international scientific awards, among them both the highest German and Turkish science award.

Rockefeller University

Erich Jarvis


Erich (who, before deciding on a career in science, was invited to audition for the prestigious Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in Harlem) graduated from Hunter College in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Mathematics and later earned his Ph.D. Neurobiology and Animal Behavior from Rockefeller University.  At Rockefeller, he worked in lab of Fernando Nottebohm, who pioneered research on the neurobiology of song-learning in birds as a model for understanding neural plasticity in the adult brain. Using innovative research techniques that often defy convention, Erich is demonstrating what the songbird can reveal about the evolution of human language and learned behavior

University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

Friederike Range


Friederike Range studied biology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany (1992-1998). She carried out her master’s thesis in West Africa, where she investigated the social structure of adult female soot (a terrestrial species of monkey). Continuing her research on the monkeys, she did a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. In 2004 she returned to Europe engaging in postdoctoral research at the University of Vienna, where she started to investigate canine behaviour and cognition. In 2007, she was one of the founders of the Clever Dog Lab (www.cleverdoglab.at) and 2008 of the Wolf Science Center (Wolf Science Center). Since September 2011 she has been employed at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

Rumelhart Prize Keynote

University of Chicago

Susan Goldin-Meadow

Rumelhart Prize Keynote


Susan Goldin-Meadow has produced fundamental insights in multiple areas of cognitive science. Her work on linguistically-isolated deaf children has provided a preliminary answer to one of the most enduring questions in cognitive science:  Where does language come from?  She has addressed the innateness question by showing that some of the building blocks of language come from individual human minds rather than from cultural evolution. This work has implications for understanding how we learn to communicate, for explaining developmental phenomena such as critical periods, and for understanding the very nature of the human capacity for language.

Rumelhart Symposium

How, When and Why Early Gesture Use Predicts Language Development

Meredith L. Rowe, Harvard University

Early Identification of Developmental Delay and Disorder: What We Can Learn from Gesture, Speech, and the Dynamics of the Communicative Process

Jana M. Iverson, University of Pittsburgh

In Search of a Mechanism: Unpacking the Effects of Hand Gesture on Math Learning

Susan Wagner Cook, University of Iowa

Comparative Perspectives on Gesture and the Evolution of Language

Erica Cartmill, University of California, Los Angeles

Heineken Prize Keynote

McGill University

Robert Zatorre

Heineken Prize Keynote


Robert Zatorre holds a Canada Research Chair in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studied music and psychology at Boston U, and obtained his PhD at Brown University, followed by postdoctoral work with Brenda Milner in Montreal. His laboratory studies the neural substrates of two characteristically human abilities: speech and music. Together with his many students and collaborators he has published over 300 scientific papers on topics including pitch perception, auditory imagery, music production, and brain plasticity; he is perhaps best known for discovering how the brain’s reward system results in musical pleasure. In 2006 he co-founded the international laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound research (BRAMS), a unique multiuniversity consortium dedicated to the cognitive neuroscience of music. His work has been recognized by numerous international prizes: including the neuronal plasticity prize from the IPSEN foundation (Paris), the Knowles prize in hearing research (Northwestern U), and the deCarvalho-Heineken prize in cognitive science (Amsterdam). He tries to keep up his baroque repertoire on the organ whenever he gets a chance.

Elman Prize Symposium

New York University

Wei Ji Ma

Elman Prize Keynote


Wei Ji Ma received his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Groningen in 2001. He continued his path through Cognitive Science with postdocs in Biology at the California Institute of Technology and in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. Wei Ji was then an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine from 2008-2013. He currently is a full Professor in the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at New York University.

The Elman Prize Symposium will include speakers:

  • Ronald van den Berg – Department of Psychology, Stockholm University – Sweden
  • Janneke Jehee – Donders institute for brain, cognition and behavior – Netherlands
  • Daeyeol Lee – Johns Hopkins University – USA
  • Will Adler – Center for Democracy and Technology – USA
  • Yael Niv – Princeton Neuroscience Institute – USA
  • Wei Ji Ma – New York University – USA

    Invited Panels

    Cognition of Time

    Chair – Kristin Tessmar, University of Vienna


    Amita SehgalUniversity of Pennsylvania
    Petr JanataUniversity of California, Davis
    Daniela PollakMedical University of Vienna
    Fuat Balci, University of Manitoba

    Comparative and Neural Approaches to Social Cognition

    Chair Claus Lamm, University of Vienna
    Co-Chair – Natalie Sebanz,
    Central European University


    Judith Burkart, Universität Zürich
    Mariska Kret, Leiden University
    Giorgia Silani, University of Vienna
    Shiri Lev-Ari, University of London, Royal Holloway

    Towards Comparative Aesthetics

    Chair – Helmut Leder, University of Vienna
    Co-Chair – Leonida Fusani, University of Vienna


    Jessica Yorzinski, Texas A&M University
    Laura Kelley, University of Exeter
    Mila Mileva, University of Plymouth
    Matthew Pelowski, University of Vienna

    Thank you to our Sponsors and Exhibitors!