the cogito foundation
  Last Update: 15.06.2007

"Musical Creativity in the Application of new Composition Software"
PD Dr. Guerino Mazzola, Institut für Informatik, Universität Zürich CHF 50'000.-

The applicant has succeeded in capturing occidental music into mathematical formulas. His insights into analysis, interpretation and composition have been formulated in the computer programs “Rubato (1992) and now “Presto”. His software can totally change the character of a musical performance by subtle changes in parameters like volume and rhythm.
In collaboration with composers and specialists in music informatics at the “Ecole Normale Supérieure”, where Mazzola works part time as a guest professor, and with Boulez’ IRCAM in Paris, the “Rubato Composer” will be developed to be a practical composing tool.


"6th International Summer School on Humor and Laughter: Theory, Research & Applications", 10-15 July 2006
Prof. Dr. Oswald Huber, Universität Fribourg CHF 2'080.-

It has only been 20 years since the beginning of research on the influence of humor on health and how humor is processed in the brain of different kinds of personalities. The “Summer School on Humor and Laughter” was founded in 2001 and this year it takes place in Fribourg, Switzerland from July 10 to 15. It will bring together neuroscientists and specialists from the humanities to discuss humor and laughter from different perspectives and in the light of new findings. This grant is to cover the cost of inviting Professor Rod A. Martin (University of Western Ontario), President of the Humor Society. His research covers humor and stress and the influence of humor and laughter on the physical and mental wellbeing. As a clinical psychologist, Rod Martin is a role model of transdisciplinary thinking.


T-104/06 "Brain Research and Concept of Man"
Profs. Drs. Adrian Holderegger und Beat Sitter-Liver, Universtität Fribourg CHF 5'000.-

The conference on “Brain Research and Concept of Man” builds bridges between science and the humanities. The topic is, how to assess the neurosciences: credits and hype, opportunities and risks, wanted and unwanted consequences. Unquestionably the idea of man is strongly influenced by neuroscience, particularly with regard to the problem of “free will”. On behalf of science and society, the conference aims at assessing the scientific state of the art, review the controversies in their normative aspects (ethics, law, politics) and seek a consensus on recommendations for a critical and constructive handling of the adventure that is neuroscience. The conference also helps to further the public understanding of science.


"WESPAC", Scientific Conference
Dr. Katja Wirth Bürgel, Kumamoto University, Japan CHF 1'686.–

The recipient is a psychologist and she has obtained her PhD with the project “Lärmstudie 2000” (noise study). She examined the effects of aircraft noise – particularly around Zurich Airport – on sleep and wellbeing of the local residents. The results have been published and presented at various conferences.
The cogito foundation assumes the cost of her participation at the Western Pacific Acoustics Conference (WESPAC) in Seoul, so that she can present her work to an international audience.



"Graduate Program for Interdisciplinary Research in Ethics at the University of Zürich 2007 – 2010"
Prof. Markus Huppenbauer, University of Zürich for 3 years CHF 144'000.-

Starting in spring of 2007 the University of Zurich will offer a Graduate Studies Program in ethics. Out of 88 candidates 14 have been accepted. Of these 12 will be supported by the Ethics Program of the University of Zurich and one by the Mercator Foundation. Ethics studies that are conducted by scientists can be examples of cooperation among sciences and humanities; therefore, the cogito foundation decided to finance the project by Adrian Jäggi who proposed to study the precursors of ethics and morality among apes which may be the roots of human ethics.


"Integrating biodiversity conservation and game theory on human cooperation: The role of informal institutions and moral systems"
Dr. Claudia Rutte, Universität Lausanne

Officially declared nature reserves often do not meet the expectations to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. „Holy groves“ and religious taboos have a better track record in this respect. This phenomenon will be examined from the perspective of the evolution of social norms. It has been known for some years (M. Nowak and K. Sigmund, later on E. Fehr) that the old adage “If everyone cares for himself, everybody is being cared for” does not hold unequivocally. People in social networks are more altruistic.
The field work for this research program will be carried out in Southern India, where taboos and traditions are still strong. For the evaluation part, the applicant will collaborate with Martin Nowak at Harvard University.


"The Role of Emotion; its Part in Setting Social Norms" (Continuation of R-110/05 und R-109/04)
Prof. Dr. Gerd Folkers, Collegium Helveticum, Zürich CHF 200'000.-

The experiment to reorient the „Collegium Helveticum“ under the leadership of Gerd Folkers is now 18 months old. The project is alive. The authors now number 11 a twelfth will soon join in (the new Professor of Neuroimaging at the University of Zurich, Dr. Tania Singer). The project contains 13 sub-projects, which are overseen by 3 to 5 research fellows. They range from questions on the nature of consciousness to the development of a device for nonverbal communication about the sensation of pain. The combination of these projects might yield something unexpected.

S-115/06 "The Development of Cooperative Norms in Human Societies"
Shakti Lamba, PhD Student, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India,
University College London (for 3 years) CHF 133'636.30

The PhD Student has developed a project to study the genetic and economical set of factors that determine elemental cooperative behavior in culturally homogenous societies. The project is based on the currently high standard of sociobiological theorizing (kin selection theory) and game theory inspired ideas on economic decision-making. Research objects are rural and semi urban societies with the same cultural background (members of the tribe Raj Gond), that differ in economic and demographic respects. The cooperative behavior between individuals within these societies will be tested with standardized game-theoretical tools. The analysis will take into account different parameters pertaining to social status and economic structure of the group.

Between Sociobiology and Sociology, Behavioral Ecology and Economy, Anthropology and Culture Science the project deals with the timely topic of the evolution of human altruism.

P-119/06 "Yearning for Freedom", Documentary Film"
Dr. Susanne Eigenheer Wyler, College of Art and Mediadesign, Zürich CHF 20'000.-

This documentary film aims to present four exceptional yet completely different personalities and their lives. There is the inmate Roger, the truck mechanic turned engineer Michael, the libertarian Olivia and the ambitious physics student Barbara. In one way or another they all yearn for freedom. The choice of persons makes the project multidisciplinary.
The cogito foundation will contribute to the part that portrays the future scientist (already a laureate of “Swiss Young Scientists” and others) and shows what it takes to succeed in the sciences. The film escorts Barbara through lecture halls, laboratories, “boot camp” and observatories. It also aims to motivate women to become scientists.


"Neurodidactics of Foreign Languages"
Dr. Manuela Macedonia, Max-Planck-Institute for Cognition Research and Neurosciences, Leipzig for 2 years CHF 77'500.-

As a language teacher Ms. Macedonia has developed novel and innovative methods of teaching, which she has investigated theoretically for her doctoral thesis. This project aims at pursuing this research further.
These new methods of learning are based on the findings of functional brain research, which explain how the plasticity of the brain can be used most efficiently, and how new knowledge can be imprinted most robustly. The method combines audiovisual learning with senso-motoric components called Voice Movement Icons. They reinforce learning trough playful gestures thus enhancing associative processes. These will be investigated experimentally by neurobiological methods.


"Gudes Tours and Workshops at the Life Science Learning Center“ (Continuation of P-128/05)
Prof. Peter Jann, Life Science Learning Center, University of Zürich, CHF 35'000.-

The “Life Science Learning Center” was inaugurated on March 1, 2006. The project “Laboratory Demonstrations and Experiments” is a central part of this venture and has started with great success. The cogito foundation has supported the start-up phase with CHF 55’000.– in 2005 for two years. This allowed the organizers to hire an instructor-scientist on a 30% basis. It was planned that the university and the ETH would assume these costs after the initial phase. Unfortunately, that decision had to be postponed. In the interest of continuity and in order to ensure the future interdisciplinary collaboration with pedagogues the cogito foundation has agreed to extend the support by one year.


"Egyptian Coffins, Mummies and Masks in Swiss Museums and Collections"
Renate Siegmann lic.phil., University of Basel CHF 3'000.-

There are 45 collections of Egyptian artifacts in Switzerland. Most of the objects are stored in archives and are therefore inaccessible to the public. Egyptologists, in collaboration with scientists from the orthopedic clinic “Balgrist” and the Institute of Anatomy of the University of Zurich have examined and documented them so that they can now be presented to the public in a kind of virtual museum – a book to be published by “Chronos”. It will contain 200 pages with 140 pictures in color and 40 in black and white. The cogito foundation assumes part of the cost of printing.


"Body–Soul–Flesh–Spirit"; Proceedings
Dr. Christina Aus der Au Heymann, University of Basel CHF 4'000.-

Support for the publication of the proceedings of the conference “Body–Soul–Flesh–Spirit”. The contributions cover a wide range of topics on the relationship of science and humanities. This support is also meant as an opportunity for the young researchers to publish their interdisciplinary work.

T-132/06 "Deliberating Future Technologies: Identity, Ethics and Governance of Nanotechnology" May 3. – 5. 2007
Prof. Sabine Maasen, University of Basel CHF 7'000.-

The Institute of Science Research of the University of Basel invites international experts in the sciences and humanities to discuss the influence of social science discourses on the genesis of the nano-sciences. The conference will debate on how ethical reflections like technology assessment, sociology of technology and legal considerations should escort nanotechnology but in which way they also shape it. The comparison with the same aspects in the case of genetic engineering will be considered closely as these discussions started much later in the development in the latter case. Involved in this program are four cogito foundation grantees: Mario Kaiser (R-119/03), Monika Kurath (R-126/04), Beatrix Rubin (R-117/03) and Sabine Maasen.