Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems Lab (SPECS)

The laboratory of Synthetic Perceptive Emotive Cognitive Systems (SPECS) is part of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), a research center whose purpose is to carry out interdisciplinary research at the highest international quality level which, by creating knowledge, helps to improve health and quality of life and generate wealth. SPECS mission is to understand mind, brain and behavior through constructing synthetic perceptive, emotive and cognitive systems. SPECS performs interdisciplinary research in the domains of technology, cognitive science and humanities, and has a long-standing tradition in the domains of computational neuroscience, cognitive science and interactive systems. SPECS group is a multidisciplinary group founded in 2005 by the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) Research Professor Paul Verschure.

Excellence and recognition awards
  • 2014 – “Consolidated Research Group” award by the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya).
  • 2014 – Paul Verschure, director of SPECS, was awarded for “Excellence in Knowledge Transfer” by UPF Social Committee for the achievement with the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS).
  • 2014 – Recognized with an European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant for the “CDAC – The role of consciousness in adaptive behaviour: A combined empirical, computational and robot based approach” project.
  • 2012 – “Finalist Award” by Pasion>ie (Insituto de Empresa, Madrid) for the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS) research project.
  • 2012 – “Social Media and Creativity” award of the Campus Milenio Event.
Ranking positioning
  • 2017 – IBEC joins the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST)
  • 2015 – “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence” seal from the Ministry of Research, Development and Innovation (MINECO), Spain.
  • 2015 – “Human Resources Excellence in Research” seal from the European Commission.
  • 2014 and 2015 – IBEC’s Communications and Outreach Unit won funding for a year of outreach activities under FECYT’s call “Convocatoria de Ayudas para el fomento de la cultura científica, tecnológica y de la innovación 2014”.
  • 2014 – IBEC was accepted into FECYT’s Red de Unidades de Cultura Científica y de la Innovación (UCC+i), a network of centres accredited for their contribution to scientific culture.
Director of the center
Paul Verschure

Paul Verschure

Paul Verschure is an ICREA and University Pompeu Fabra (UPF) professor since 2005, in 2017 he joined IBEC where he is the director of the Synthetic Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) laboratory. He received his MS and PhD in Psychology and his scientific aim is to find a unified theory of mind and brain using synthetic methods and to apply it to quality of life enhancing technologies. His theory –Distributed Adaptive Control– has been generalized to a range of brain structures and robotic systems and has laid the foundation for a novel neurorehabilitation approach called the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS). SPECS comprises a multidisciplinary team of 30 researchers in a wide range of disciplines. Paul has represented Switzerland in the Global Science Forum of the OECD, is chair of the annual Barcelona Cognition, Brain and Technology Summer School and co-chair of the annual Convergent Science Network’s Conference Living Machines.

Renowned researcher

Anna Mura

Anna Mura is a biologist with a PhD in Neuroscience, she has pursued her education and research in several universities in the United States (Arizona University Tucson, University of California, San Diego) and in Europe (University of Cagliari, Italy, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-ETH Zurich, University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain). She has worked for many years in the field of brain research, where her main interest was the understanding of brain degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Currently, besides maintaining her interest for brain research by participating in projects related to stroke rehabilitation using VR-based technologies, she is focusing on the question of creativity in artificial and biological systems. As part of this and as a member of the Laboratory for Synthetic Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems she is responsible for the narrative content, dramaturgy and scenography of the human accessible mixed reality space eXperience Induction Machine (XIM). She is also involved in projects that investigate learning principles using robots and human robot interaction methodologies. Studying creativity is important to address fundamental challenges in education, cultural heritage and human experience.

The project

Do you want to understand the neuronal substrate of animals by building robots and programming them using neuronal principles? Do you want to understand how learning happens in the brain? By understanding the simplest animals in terms of its neuronal organization, in this course we will use mobile 3D printed robots to learn how to build complex behaviors that are not just reactive responses to a stimulus but that include learning and memory as well.