On Wednesday, May 5th the Cognitive Development Center (CDC) hosted a public lecture by Natalie Sebanz and Gunther Knoblich entitled “Joint Action: How People Share Actions, Tasks, and Memories”.
In their lecture, the two distinguished lecturers focused on the mechanisms that allow coordinating joint actions among people. They argued that for example dancing together, building a house, or jointly preparing a meal, ie. people's ability to coordinate their actions with each other is a fundamental aspect of human society. Natalie Sebanz and Gunther Knoblich research those types of processes and representations that make such joint actions possible. In their talk they highlighted on action planning and temporal coordination as the two key aspects of joint action. According to them, studies on action planning reveal that people have a strong tendency to share tasks and memories. They also shared with the audience that studies on coordination suggest that motor simulation, non-verbal coordination signals, and entrainment serve to predict and align actions in time. According to the presenters, future challenges concern the role of inter-individual and inter-group relations, as well as the experiences emerging in joint action.
Natalie Sebanz is an Associate Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. With the help of the European Young Investigator Award (EURYI) she started a 5-year project on “Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms of Joint Action” in September 2008. After studying Psychology and Psycholinguistics in Innsbruck, Austria, and a study visit at University College London, Sebanz joined Wolfgang Prinz’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich in 2001. She received her PhD from LMU Munich in 2004 and later that year she joined Maggie Shiffrar’s Lab at Rutgers University as a post-doc. In 2006, she became Assistant Professor at Rutgers. One and a half years later, she moved to the University of Birmingham in the UK, where she spent a year as a lecturer in Psychology. Sebanz is interested in how perception, action, and cognition contribute to social interaction in humans and animals.
Gunther Knoblich is a Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. After studying psychology and computer science at Wurzburg University and Hamburg University, he joined one of the first PhD programs for Cognitive Science in Germany in 1994 and received his PhD from Hamburg University in 1997. The same year Knoblich became a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Wolfgang Prinz’s group in Munich. He habilitated at LMU Munich in 2004. Later in 2004 he moved to Rutgers University, where he became an Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology. In 2007 Knoblich became Full Professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His diverse research interests include action and body perception, sense of agency, joint action, embodied communication, Self, stereotyping, and problem solving.