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 Does Language Affect Development?: Reviewing Assumptions

Marie Coppola, University of Connecticut

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.

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, Koç University

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

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