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New DFG Priority Program

The minimal self

München, 04/24/2017

The DFG has announced that it will fund a new interdisciplinary Priority Program devoted to the psychological and neurophysiological foundations of the so-called minimal self.

Foto: Natallia Vintsik / fotolia.com

According to the concept of the minimal self, each individual possesses a consciousness of oneself as the immediate subject of experience, which is independent of one’s narrative self – i.e., one’s conception of one’s personal history and hopes. What are the distinguishing features of this pre-reflexive consciousness of self? What accounts for the awareness of one’s body as one’s own, and of oneself as an agent who is in control of one’s own actions? These fundamental issues are at the core of the new DFG Priority Program “The Minimal Self as Agent” (Das handelnde Selbst) of which Markus Paulus, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology in Early Childhood at LMU, has been named as one of two Deputy Coordinators. The aim of the nationwide Program is to employ approaches drawn from a variety of disciplines – including developmental psychology, cognitive science and artificial intelligence – in projects based at various institutions in Germany to uncover the bases of the minimal self in the body’s sensory and motor systems. The findings are expected to provide new insights into the psychological and neurophysiological origins of the self and contribute to current debates on the development and application of artificial intelligence systems.

The Coordinator of the new Priority Program is Bernard Hommel, Professor of Psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, while Professor Verena Hafner (Informatics Institute, Humboldt University, Berlin) will serve as the second Deputy Coordinator.

The DFG’s Priority Programs are specifically intended to stimulate advances in emerging fields of research and in areas that are undergoing particularly rapid development, which require a high level of interdisciplinary collaboration and the application of innovative methodologies. Beginning in 2018, the DFG will provide funding amounting to approximately 100 million euros for a total of 17 new Priority Programs over a period of 6 years.

For more on Markus Paulus’ research, see: