ESCOP summer schools: 2000-2009

2000 ESCoP Summer School on “Learning: the acquisition of behavioral competence” 

Organized by Joachim Hoffmann, Würzburg, Germany

Forty-two scholars of Psychology from, literally, all over the world, took part in the event to discuss the most recent developments in various areas of learning research. Most participants came from countries within central Europe, but there were also participants from the United States and even a graduate student from Australia. 

Eight invited lecturers had four hours each to bring students up to scratch in their respective area of expertise. A first emphasis of the scientific program dealt with elementary associative learning processes. John Pearce of Cardiff University gave a lecture on associative learning in animals, with special consideration of discrimination learning. Mark Gluck from Rutgers University, New Jersey presented an overview of current data and models regarding the function of the hippocampus in associative learning. Finally, David Shanks from University College, London talked about associative learning in humans, comparing various theoretical approaches in the light of the available data and making special reference to the implicit/explicit debate.

The modeling of learning in animats was the topic of the lecture by Jean-Arcady Meyer from the University of Paris 6. He gave an overview of different approaches to autonomous learning mechanisms in artificial intelligence, including classifier systems and genetic algorithms. Axel Cleeremans from the Free University of Brussels focussed on discussing the function of consciousness in human learning with special reference to a comparison of human data with network simulations of various sequence learning tasks.

The ontogenetic development of behavioral competence was the central topic of Claes van Hofsten’s (Uppsala University) lecture. He discussed, amongst other topics, the theoretical significance of experimental data and demonstrations regarding the control of eye movements and grasping in infants. Joachim Hoffmann and his colleagues from the University of Wuerzburg reported about current research on the control of voluntary behavior. Special attention was given to the ideo-motor hypothesis and the role of action-outcomes in behavioral control. Finally, Philippe Schyns from the University of Glasgow talked about perceptual learning and the role of subjects’ preconceptions in discrimination tasks. He presented new methods and data that shed light on the flexibility with which the human visual system adapts to currently required discriminations.

In addition to the invited lectures, each participant of the summer school presented some of her/his current work on a poster in one of three poster sessions. Thus, lecturers as well as participants likewise contributed through presentations of their research to very lively and inspiring discussions of current issues in learning research for the whole duration of the summer school. We all agreed in a final discussion session that was organized by some of the participants that there is still a lot of food for future research and that it is worth to deepen the exchange and the cooperation among the groups in Europe dealing with learning in psychology, neuropsychology and artificial intelligence. As a first step in this enterprise we have now established the European Network of Cognitive Learning Research (ENCOL).


2006 ESCoP Summer School on Memory

Organized by Teresa Bajo, Granada

2008  ESCoP Summer School on Neuroscience of Attention 

Organized by Ana B. Vivas and Bernhard Hommel, Ouranoupoli, Greece