With a rating that was overall outstanding, the German Council of Science and Humanities has recommended that funding be given for the planned Human Cognition and Behavior (HuCaB) research building at Göttingen University. The new building will be home to an interdisciplinary centre for research into human social cognition. In addition, the funding will enable the purchase of several large pieces of equipment. This includes a magnetoencephalograph (MEG) for recording brain activity with millisecond precision, without noise and without physical contact with the participant. The Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz – GWK(Joint Science Conference) of the German Government and the Länder will make the final decision about the funding on 2 July 2021.
"The restrictions during the corona pandemic clearly show us what highly social creatures people are,” explains the head of the project, Professor Annekathrin Schacht from the Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology. "We interact with others all the time. These interactions are highly complex and place special demands on our brain. We have to continuously observe facial expressions, gestures, voice pitch and actions, as well as assess intentions, moods and level of knowledge. All this information has to be dynamically and adaptively incorporated into our own decisions and actions."
"Numerous advances in recording and processing behavioural data and brain activity, for the first time, enable us to comprehensively investigate these complex situations experimentally," explains Professor Alexander Gail, who also conducts research at the Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology and the German Primate Center. "Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and different imaging techniques, including MEG, play a crucial role in this. The research building will bring together new experimental approaches using versatile platforms that integrate these very different methods."
HuCaB will not only combine methods, but also expertise from different disciplines. Scientists from psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, biology, physics, medicine and computer science will be able to lay the foundations for a more comprehensive understanding of cognition and behaviour in social contexts in the new research building. This will also open up opportunities for psychotherapeutic treatment methods, which is why research with a specific application (for instance to develop a treatment) and basic research will work together hand-in-hand in the new centre.
"The positive signal from the German Council of Science and Humanities reaffirms the potential for innovation and strength of the University and its Göttingen Campus partners. This gives us further impetus for the continuing development of Göttingen as a focus for high quality science and research," says University President Professor Metin Tolan, who, along with the scientists, is delighted by the news.
The new building will be around 3,500 square metres in total area and is to be built on the University's central campus between Goßlerstraße and Heinrich-Düker-Weg. According to current calculations, the total costs will be around 37 million euros. Construction is scheduled to begin in autumn 2022 and to be completed in mid-2025.
Professor Annekathrin Schacht
University of Göttingen
Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology
Goßlerstraße 14, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)551 39-23611