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Posted on 31 July 2018

Guest lecture at the University of California, Berkeley

On 31 July, Frank Loesche, Diego S. Maranan, Agi Haines, and Sean Clarke gave a guest lecture at the Cognitive Science course at the University of California, Berkeley. In their talk titled ‘Collaboration and Cognitive Innovation: the Eureka Moment, Floating Brains, Reimagining the Body, and Acoustic Osteology’ they emphasised the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in Cognitive Science research. Invited by Paul Li, each of them gave examples from their own works and practice of approaching Cognitive Innovation.

Frank introduced the Eureka experience as an emergent higher order phenomena and drew connections to similar terms such as insight, Aha moment, hunch, epiphany, illumination, and serendipity. Tracing these moments through history, starting from Vitruvius’s story about the eponymous Eureka moment through ancient models of creativity such as divine intervention, the pre-renaissance idea of genius, and the insight in Gestalt psychology, he arrived at the contemporary standard definition of creativity and how it relates to creative problem solving. Using the novel experimental paradigm he developed during his PhD at CogNovo as well as the qualitative data collected in interviews with Architects, he argued that interdisciplinarity and collaboration have been an essential part of understanding and practising creativity for most times.

Diego presented two examples from his body of interdisciplinary collaborative research into how technology can shape our perception of our own bodies, leading to novel and surprising outcomes. The first example looked at how technological metaphors underlie conceptual representations of the body, space, and movement in certain kinds of urban dance forms. He extended the perceptual theory of ‘structure from motion’ to propose an audience reception model he calls structural illusion from embodied motion. The second example focused on his PhD research at CogNovo that led to Haplos, a wearable technology that applies strategically structured vibrotactile patterns to facilitate body awareness. Haplos was inspired by research in neurophysiology, costume design, and somatic practices.

Invited by the lecturer Paul Li, the talks were given as part of the course ‘Cognitive Science 1: Introduction to Cognitive Science’. In the course syllabus as well as his textbook, Paul Li highlights the interdisciplinarity of the field as ‘the final frontiers’. In their four talks, Diego, Agi, Sean, and Frank with their diverse professional backgrounds provided examples and arguments for collaborations within this type of environment.