ERC Synergy Grants 2018
Two new Grants awarded to PI of UNIGE
Twenty seven research groups across Europe have won highly-coveted ERC Synergy Grants in the call 2018. Worth in total 250 million, this funding enables groups of two to four lead researchers to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources to jointly address research problems at the frontiers of knowledge. The grants are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, and the most prestigious grants due to its size and high requirement of research excellence.
Brain Play project : The self-teaching brain
Prof. Daphné Bavelier – Principal investigator@unige
FAPSE, Section de Psychologie
Our goal is to uncover the learning algorithms that subserve biological intelligence and to discover how they are implemented in the brain. We take for granted that biological intelligence results from neural information processing, that neural information processing is based on the transmission of action potentials through synapses, and that learning is realized through synaptic plasticity. We are inspired by two key observations: Firstly, we know that biological learning unfolds in ways different from mainstream machine learning that relies on learning from large labeled datasets. Second, we discovered that the engagement of the brain during play can result in unexpected and profound cognitive benefits. This proposal describes an untravelled route to the learning algorithms of the brain that runs through the no-man’s-land between synaptic physiology, systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, theoretical neuroscience and machine learning. Our approach focuses on the self-teaching abilities of the mammalian brain and covers and connects four major topics: (1) the objective functions that govern synaptic plasticity, (2) the teaching signals through which learning is steered, (3) behavioral mechanisms of self-teaching, in particular play behaviors, (4) the brain states that engage self-teaching behaviors, in particular the brain state of play. The BrainPlay grant will study self-teaching abilities from synapses to brains, from computational theory to action video games. As gaming has been shown to be highly beneficial for human brain function, we are intrigued by how little we know about what is going on in playing brains and how the brain state of play shapes learning. Engaging the latest theoretical and technological breakthroughs, BrainPlay will reach far beyond mainstream neuroscience and embrace and elucidate playfulness and self-teaching as important components of the brain's learning algorithms.
List of involved Principal Investigator :
Prof Daphne Bavelier, Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience, FPSE and Campus Biotech, Geneva Switzerland; head of the Brain and Learning Lab
Prof. Dr. Robert Gütig, Professor in Mathematical Modeling of Neural Learning at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the BIH, Germany
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz, Director of the Neuroscience Research Center at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Prof. Michael Brecht, Professor in the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Humboldt Universitat;
1 HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITAET ZU BERLIN Germany
2 UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE Switzerland 2.5 MEUR
3 MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV Germany
4 CHARITE - UNIVERSITAETSMEDIZIN BERLIN Germany
Total grant : 9.782 MEUR
Duration : 72 months
ReNewQuantum: Recursive and exact new quantum theory Project
Prof. Marcos Marino Beiras - Principal investigator@unige
Faculté des Sciences, Section de mathématique / Département de physique théorique
The overarching goal of ReNewQuantum is to renew the mathematical foundation behind quantum phenomena.
We aim to construct a recursive and exact new approach to quantum theory. Quantum theory is one of the pillars of modern science. Its success stretches from elementary quantum mechanical models, developed a century ago by quantization of classical mechanics, to advanced quantum field theories such as the standard model of particle physics, which is the quantization of a gauge theory. However, a precise and universal mathematical formulation of the quantization procedure is still lacking. In addition, there are very few analytic methods in Quantum Mechanics and in Quantum Field Theory. They are typically based on approximation schemes which often lead to quantitative and even qualitative failures in our descriptions.
In response to these shortcomings, the main objective of ReNewQuantum is to construct a completely new mathematical approach to quantization and to quantum systems. This quantum theory will provide:
- a global, explicit and recursive description of the series of quantum corrections,
- access to exact quantum regimes beyond perturbation theory,
- a well founded mathematical theory underlying the quantization procedure, based on geometric structures, and applicable to quantum field theory and string theory.
ReNewQuantum will take the lead among the world scientific community in building this new theory of quantum physics. The researchers behind ReNewQuantum have already made important contributions along these directions. The construction of a recursive and exact new approach to quantum theory with the stated properties will only be possible through their joint synergetic effort and a combination of their deep mathematical and physical expertises, including geometry, topology and the mathematical theory of quantization (Andersen, Kontsevich), and quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, random matrix theory and string theory (Eynard, Mariño).
1 AARHUS UNIVERSITET Denmark
2 COMMISSARIAT A L ENERGIE ATOMIQUE ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES France
3 INSTITUT DES HAUTES ETUDES SCIENTIFIQUES France
4 UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE 2.437 MEUR
Total grant : 9.815 M EUR
Duration : 72 months