Michal Vavrečka

I work as a assistant profesor in the Biomedical Data Processing Group at the Gerstner Laboratory (Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University, Prague). I finished the MA degree in Psychology at the Faculty of Arts at the Masaryk University in Brno (2005) and Ph.D. degree in General Psychology at Faculty of Social Studies (2008). My diploma thesis was focused on the comparison of human and artificial intelligence and the doctoral thesis was dedicated to the cognitive semantics and its application in the area of spatial navigation. The empirical part consisted of neural network model for spatial prepositions representation. Here is my CV. My research combines theories and methods of cognitive psychology, neuroscience and computational modeling. You can read more at my personal webpage

Research interests



I focus on the cognitive semantics and the ways people store their knowledge about space, objects, facts, categories, abstract entities or causal relations. My approach is based on the collection of information from cognitive psychology and neuroscience and its application in the area of cognitive robotics to design artificial systems able to mimic human behaviour. From the theoretical point of view I do believe that human understanding of the outside world is based on the ability to learn the invariant features from the environment and to create robust representations consisting of linguistic and non-linguistic level. This representational system allows to think about the environment without the necessity to interpret it by an external observer. The topics I am interested in covers core subfields of the cognitive science, namely cognitive psychology (spatial navigation, frames of reference, mental imagery), cognitive neuroscience (EEG correlates of reference frames, emotions and knowledge representation) and embodied cognitive robotics (cognitive semantics, symbol grounding problem, knowledge representation, self-organization and spatial navigation).

I am interested in the knowledge representation, namely the development of multimodal representations within the learning from an environment. This approach stems from the perceptual theories of cognition and deals with the problem of grounding symbols into conceptual level. The wider scope of this approach is described in the theory of cognitive semantics. The goal is to develop models based on mentioned theories and test them in the real environment. We have been developing (togerther with partners from Comenius University) multimodal architecture for grounding symbols in the area of spatial navigation to represent static (up, down etc.) and dynamic (around, through etc.) spatial prepositions. The recent version of the model is able to represent short sentences describing the spatial relation of two objects in the space. In the next step we would like to test the architecture in the real robot simulation (e.g. iCub). The second branch of our research is focused on the representation of synonyms and homonyms. The main goal is to test the methods of unsupervised learning in the process of knowledge acquisition in terms of multimodal integration.

CV

4/2008- present Czech Technical University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Biodat Research Group, Gerstner Laboratory, Prague, Czech Republic, Assistant Professor
1/2005- 6/2008 Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies, Brno, Czech Republic, PhD. Degree, General Psychology, 18.6.2008, Application of cognitive semantics in the model of spatial relations representation.
9/1999-1/2005 Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, Brno, Czech Republic, M.A. Degree, Psychology, 1.2.2005, Methods of Human Intelligence Simulation.

Scholarship:

2009 SAIA scholarship at Department of Applied Informatics, Faculty of Mathematihcs, Physics and informatics, Mei:CogSci, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
2007 SAIA scholarship at Department of Applied Informatics, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and informatics, Mei:CogSci, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
2006 Summer school of Cognitive science at Central and Eastern European Center for Cognitive Science Sofia, Bulgaria