SC2: Cognition, embodiment, and robots


(This is still somewhat preliminary; in particular the boundaries between the sessions are quite fluid)

Session 1: Cognition
Paradigms for understanding cognition
Social cognition
Cognitive Architectures

Session 2: Embodiment
Different flavours of embodiment
Functionalism vs anti-functionalism
Representationalist or not
The role of the body

Session 3: “Embodied” Robots

Cognitive robotics
Are robots embodied?
Implementing robot models of human cognitive mechanisms

Session 4: Looking forward: where do we go from here?

Embodied cognitive architectures
Robots as increasingly social agents
Robots as a way of understanding human cognition


  • Acquire an understanding of different views of cognition (in particular, those related to embodiment), and be able to reason using them
  • Acquire a good understanding of the state of the art in cognitive robotics
  • Be able to clearly reason about questions such as

    • To what degree can/should the study of human cognition inform the design of robots?

    • To what degree can robots tell us anything about human cognition?

    • Are robots embodied? Do they need to be?


David Vernon (2014). Artificial Cognitive Systems: A primer
Tony Chemero (2009). Radical Embodied Cognitive Science

Thill, S. & Twomey, K. What's on the inside counts: A grounded account of concept acquisition and development Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition, 2016, 7
Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00402

Svensson, H. & Thill, S. Beyond bodily anticipation: internal simulations in social interaction. Cognitive Systems Research, 2016, 40, 161 - 171
Doi: 10.1016/j.cogsys.2016.06.003

Course location


Course requirements


Instructor information.

Serge Thill


I am an associate professor in computer science at the University of Plymouth in the UK. Prior to that, I was an associate professor of cognitive science at the University of Skövde in Sweden. I hold a PhD from the department of Engineering at the University of Leicester, an MSc in Informatics from the University of Edinburgh and a BSc (Hons) in Cognitive Science from the University of Exeter.

My main research interests are in cognitive science in general and interaction between cognitive agents (whether artificial or not) in particular. This includes research on the mirror system, action and intention recognition, planning and language. My research has practical implications for the design of artificial cognitive agents (such as social robots or intelligent vehicles). My work mostly centres on computational modelling and theoretical approaches, but includes experimental research where appropriate.