The Human Brain Project: Neurorobotics Sub-Project Workshop

Does the Brain Need a Body to be a Brain?

An International Workshop – Barcelona, Spain

8th-9th March, 2018


Venue, Travel, Hotels

Neuroscience research is learning more and more about the details of how the brain works. Biologically plausible artificial neural networks attempt to simulate brain functioning, and detailed computer simulations of parts of the brain exist, producing results that conform to experimental data from real brains. However, can attempts to simulate the workings of the brain ever be successful unless the simulation includes at its core interaction between the brain and the body that it controls? Scientists and philosophers have speculated about the feasibility of a ‘brain in a vat‘, one disconnected from the world, except for outputs that enable external monitoring or inputs such as electrical simulation. While such a brain would function, in the sense that it would respond to stimuli and its own network connectivity would by itself produce complex patterns of activity – useful for understanding how the connectivity works – would this be anything whatsoever like a real brain, or just a machine, a black-box where a set of inputs results in a set of outputs? The Neurorobotics Sub-Project of the Human Brain Project attempts to provide robotic bodies for simulated brains. This approach is not only of great scientific value, but also reaches for a radically new way to design robot intelligence.

This workshop brings together experts from within and outside the Human Brain Project to discuss the relationship between brain and body from the point of view of philosophy, neuroscience, computer science, engineering and robotics. Each topic will be introduced by an expert in the field followed by debate and discussion.

Attendees will learn about the Neurorobotics Sub-Project of the Human Brain Project in particular and about the fundamental scientific and practical questions that the brain-body relationship raises. They will have the chance to ask questions and debate with the expert speakers.



Thursday 8th March

11:00 Registration

Please bring your Eventbrite Registration.

Lunch during this period will be at attendees’ own expense.
Guidance to nearby places will be given.

13:30 Mel Slater
Introduction: Virtual reality and the brain-body relationship

14:00 Florian Roehrbein (HPB SP10 Speaker)
Neurorobotics in the Human Brain Project

15:00 Barry Smith
Bodies that think and feel, perceive and act

16:00 BREAK

16:30 Mavi Sanchez-Vives (HPB SP3 Speaker)
What the virtual body tells us about sensory processing and motor control

17:30 Patrick Haggard
Getting stuff done: the sense of agency in the human brain

18:30 Close

20:00 Dinner at Can Cortada (please do follow this link)

Friday 9th March

09:00 Frederique de Vignemont
The extended body hypothesis

10:00 Beatrice de Gelder
A bottom up perspective on embodiment

11:00 BREAK

11:30 Tony Prescott (HPB SP3 Speaker)
Synthesizing the embodied self: A robotics perspective

12:30 Abderrahmane Kheddar
Are humanoids the ultimate quest of human augmentation?

13:30 LUNCH

15:00 Tamar Flash
Humans, brains and robots: motor compositionality and action-perception coupling

16:00 Postdoc Symposium Chaired by Florian Roehrbein:
Robot-Human Symbiosis through brain interfaces (BCI) – Examples and Desirability

Laura Aymerich-Franch
In a robot’s body: What we learned from embodiment experiments

Sameer Kishore
Beaming to and brain control over a robot body

Arnau Espinosa
Brain computer interfaces and embodiment

Niceto Luque (HPB SP10 Speaker)
Cerebellum simulation towards embodiment

18:00 CLOSE


This conference is supported by the Human Brain Project. The Human Brain Project is a H2020 FET Flagship Project which strives to accelerate the fields of neuroscience, computing and brain-related medicine.

Thanks to Irene Sanjuan Navais and Solene Neyret, Event Lab, University of Barcelona for their expert help in organising this event.

Thanks to Mavi Sanchez-Vives for help in the organisation of the programme.

Thanks to Florian Roehrbein for help from the HBP.



Please note that coffee breaks, lunch and the social dinner is covered by UB for all the invited speakers including HBP members.