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

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
  • In 2017: joined the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).
  • In 2015: awarded with the “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence” seal by the Ministry of Research, Development and Innovation of Spain.
  • In 2015: awarded with the “Human Resources Excellence in Research” seal by the European Commission.
  • In 2014 and 2015: IBEC’s Communications and Outreach Unit awarded with 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”.
  • In 2014: 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.
  • In 2014: awarded with “Consolidated Research Group” by the Government of Catalonia.
  • In 2014: awarded with “Excellence in Knowledge Transfer” to Paul Vershure by the UPF Social Committee for the development of the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS).
  • In 2014: recognized with a 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.
  • In 2012: awarded with “Finalist Award” by Pasion (Instituto de Empresa, Madrid) for the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS) research project.
  • In 2012: “Social Media and Creativity” award of the Campus Milenio Event.
Director of the center
Paul Verschure

Paul Verschure

  • Professor at Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF).
  • MSc and PhD in Psychology and expert in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Publication of more then 100 scientific papers and several books.
  • 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, known as Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC), 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).
  • He loves sports and music.
Renowned researcher

Anna Mura

  • Degree in Biology.
  • PhD in Neuroscience.
  • Her main interest has been the understanding of brain degenerative diseases and loss of learning capability.
  • Current study in the question of creativity in artificial and biological systems.
  • 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.