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Second International Workshop on Intrinsic Motivations and Open-Ended Development in Animals, Humans, and Robots (IMOD-2013)

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The second and final ''International IM-CLeVeR Workshop'', directed to draw the state of the art in open-ended development from a highly interdisciplinary perspective. Held at a nice area of Rome, the 3 day Workshop is highly interactive and based on several outstanding keynote presentations and long plenary poster presentations.

When giu 06, 2013 09:00 to
giu 08, 2013 06:00
Where Rome
Contact Name
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Dates, participation, (no) costs

Rome, 6-8 June 2013, 9:00-18:00

The participation to the Workshop is free but people desiring to participate have to send an email to ''simona.bosco -at-'' and ''gianluca.baldassarre -at-'' within the 31st of May. Participation will be allowed until the termination of the Workshop slots and conditioned to the relevance of the participant's work for the Workshop topics.

Free buffet lunches and coffee breaks are offered at the conference venue.

Dinners and accommodation are on the participants, both in terms of costs and organisation. At the end of the page you can find links to web-pages with a list of possible hotels to book.


The International Workshop will be held in Rome in the neighbourhood of Rione Monti close to the Colosseum.

Rione Monti


The Workshop will be at "Centro Congressi Cavour", Via Cavour 50/a.
The closest subway stations are "Termini" (Metro line A and line B; "Stazione Termini'' is Rome central station, where the two subway lines of Rome cross) and "Cavour" (Metro line B). 

The venue is 5 mins away, on foot, from Termini station, 15 mins away from Rione Monti (a nice area of Rome, see below), and 25 mins away from the Colosseum. 

Link to ''Centro Congressi Cavour'' in Google Maps

Centro congressi cavour

  A view of the ''Centro Congressi Cavour''

Topics of the Workshop

What are the motivations that underlie animal and human capacity to cumulatively acquire knowledge and develop complex skills in a cumulative fashion? And what are the internal and external events that trigger learning? The aim of this Workshop is to present state-of-the-art research, and to foster theoretical, empirical, and computational investigations, on open-ended development driven by intrinsic motivations.

Autonomous development and lifelong open-ended learning are hallmarks of intelligence. Higher mammals, and especially humans, engage in activities which do no appear to directly serve the goals of survival, reproduction, or material advantage. Rather, a large part of their activity is driven by intrinsic motivations such as curiosity, play, the interest in novel stimuli and surprising events, autonomous goal-setting and the acquisition of new competences. This allows the cumulative acquisition of knowledge and skills that can later be used to accomplish fitness-enhancing goals. Intrinsic motivations continue during adulthood, and in humans they underlie artistic creativity and scientific discovery, and play a fundamental role in subjective well-being.

The study of intrinsically motivated learning has a long history in psychological and ethological research, which is now being reinvigorated by perspectives from neuroscience, artificial intelligence and computer science. Neuroscience is now focussing on neuromodulators, such as dopamine and noradrenaline, and their relation not only to extrinsic rewards and motivations but also to novel and surprising events; on brain areas, like the superior colliculus or the hippocampus, involved in the perception and processing of phasic events, novel stimuli, and novel association or sequences of stimuli; and on the brain areas involved in processing the violation of predictions and expectations. 

Computational approaches are characterising the space of possible reinforcement learning algorithms and their augmentation by exploration bonuses of different kinds. Research in robotics and machine learning is yielding systems with increasing autonomy and capacity for self-improvement: artificial systems with drives that are similar to those of real organisms and aim to support truly prolonged learning. Computational research on intrinsic motivations is being complemented by, and closely interacts with, research that aims to build hierarchical architectures capable of acquiring, storing, and exploiting the knowledge and skills acquire with open-ended learning.

Now it is an important moment in the study of intrinsically motivated open-ended development, requiring contributions and integration across a wide number of fields within the cognitive sciences. This Workshop aims to contribute to this effort and so welcomes presentations carried out with ethological, psychological, neuroscientific and computational approaches, as well as interdisciplinary works that cut across disciplines and approaches. Original works advancing specific aspects of the state of the art and review/theoretical presentations aiming to systematize the field are both suitable for the Workshop.



Frontiers in Cognitive Science: Topic linked to the Workshop

The Workshop is linked to a Topic (i.e., a special issue) of Frontiers in Cognitive Science, deadline 21st of May 2013, with the title "Intrinsic motivations and open-ended development in animals, humans, and robots". Notice that although the deadline of the abstract submission has expired we still accept submissions of abstracts till the 15th of May. So far we have accepted 31 full paper submissions, so the Topic promises to be a milestone event in the field of intrinsic motivations. Full instructions on the call and submission process can be found here: 

Link to Frontiers in Cognitive Science Topic

Draft Agenda (further details soon)

Overall structure of the Workshop

The workshop will be based on:

- Numerous invited presentations (see list below)
- Posters sessions involving all the other participants (please send an email to simona.bosco (at) to communicate that you will present a poster): note that there will be a lot of sessions dedicate to discuss your posters, so be ready to receive and discuss a lot of feedbacks!
- Plenary discussions and round tables on hot topics related to intrinsic motivations and open-ended development

The invited speakers will be asked not only to present their work relevant for the Workshop topics, but also to challenge the participants with provocative positions and open problems to be discussed during poster sessions and at the round tables. The round tables will aim to discuss important problems emerged during the conference.

Invited speakers

Link to web-page with abstracts of invited talk and posters

Cyriel Pennartz (Department Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Center for Neuroscience CSCA, Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam, Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam):
"Hippocampus, striatum and beyond: interweaving motivation with action, memory and perception"
Daniel Polani (Department of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire, UK):
"The Cognitive Imprint of Environment and Intrinsic Motivation"
Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino (Unit of Cognitive Primatology and Primate Centre, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR, Rome) & Fabrizio Taffoni (Universita' Campus Bio-Medico, Rome):
"A mechatronic Platform for empirical experiments on intrinsic motivations and skill acquisition. Experiments with children and monkeys".
Gianluca Baldassarre (Laboratory of Computational Embodied Neuroscience, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR, Rome):
"Biological and robotic perspectives on intrinsic motivations"
Giorgio Metta (iCub Facility, Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy):
"Learning new skills on the iCub"
Jochen Triesch (Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany):
"Intrinsically Motivated Learning in Active Perception"
Juergen Schmidhuber (Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, Istituto Dalle Molle sull'Intelligenza Artificiale, Lugano, Switzerland):
Kevin Gurney 
(Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK):
"Computational models of action discovery in animals"
Kevin O'Regan (Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception - Institut Paris Descartes de Neurosciences et Cognition, Paris, France):
"Why is it so hard to use a rake?"
Mark Lee and James Law (Department of Computer Science, University of Aberystwyth, UK):
"A psychology grounded approach for longitudinal development in cognitive robotics"
Martin McGinnity (School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster, Londonderry, UK)
"Novelty-based Intrinsic Motivations for Driving Robot Learning"
Minoru Asada (Department of Adaptive Machine Systems, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Japan): "(To be refined) Bio-inspired learning in robots"
Paul Verschure (Catalan Institute of Advanced Research (ICREA), Technology Department, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain):
"(To be refined)  Bio-inspired multi-layered architectures for cumulative learning in organisms and robots"
Peter Redgrave (Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK):
"The acquisition of novel behaviour: Inspiration from neuroscience"

Overall organisation of the conference

Thursday 6 June 2013

09:00-09:50: Invited talk: Gianluca Baldassarre
09:50-10:40: Invited talk:  Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino / Fabrizio Taffoni
     10:40-11:00: Coffee break
11:00-11:50: Invited talk:  Kevin O'Regan
11:50-13:00: Posters
     13:00-14:00: Buffet lunch and posters
14:00-14:50: Invited talk: Mark Lee / James Law
14:50-15:40: Invited talk: Juergen Schmidhuber
    15:40-16:30: Coffee break and posters
16:30-18:30: Round table - Which intrinsic motivations and architectures for open-ended development?

Friday 7 June 2013

09:00-09:50: Invited talk: Cyriel Pennartz
09:50-10:40: Invited talk:  Giorgio Metta

     10:40-11:00: Coffee break
11:00-11:50: Invited talkh: Paul Verschure
11:50-13:00: Posters
     13:00-14:00: Buffet lunch and posters
14:00-14:50: Invited talk: Martin McGinnity
14:50-15:40: Invited talk: Daniel Polani
    15:40-16:30: Coffee break and posters
16:30-18:30: Round table - What are the critical bottlenecks of open-ended development in animals and robots?

Saturday 8 June 2013

09:00-09:50: Invited talk: Jochen Triesch
09:50-10:40: Invited talk: Peter Redgrave

     10:40-11:00: Coffee break
11:00-11:50: Invited talk: Minoru Asada
11:50-13:00: Posters
     13:00-14:00: Buffet lunch and posters
14:00-14:50: Invited talk: Kevin Gurney
14:50-15:40: Organisation and start of ''Plenary game''  (see below)
    15:40-16:30: Coffee break and posters
16:30-18:30: ''Plenary game'' - 8 experienced scientists (8 minutes each) propose solutions to the critical bottlenecks identified yesterday. In the last 30 mins the audience discusses and judges the most interesting proposals. The game aims to isolate promising road-maps to investigate open-ended development in future research.


Gianluca Baldassarre


Marco Mirolli, Vieri Santucci, Valerio Sperati, Francesco Mannella, Daniele Caligiore, Emilio Cartoni, Simona Bosco

Attendees of the Workshop

Adessi, Elsa
Andringa, Tjeerd C
Asada, Minoru
Baldassarre, Gianluca
Borghi, Anna
Caligiore, Daniele
Cartoni, Emilio
Castro da Silva, Bruno
Ciancio, Annalisa
Ceravolo, Valentina
Condell, Joan
Di Nocera, Dario
Earland, Kevin
Finzi, Alberto
Fiore, Vincenzo
Focaroli, Valentina
Formica, Domenico
Glackin, Cornelius
Gurney, Kevin
Kompella, Varun
Kunyoshi, Yasuo
Law, James
Lee, Mark
Makukhin, Kirill
Mannella, Francesco
McGuinnity, Martin
Merrick, Kathryn Elisabeth
Metta, Giorgio
Metzen, Jan Hendrick
Moulin-Frier, Clement
Mustile, Magda
Ngo, Hung
Nguyen, Sao Mai
Nolfi, Stefano
Notte, Marica
Ogino, Masaki
O'Regan, Kevin
Oubbati, Mohamed
Palm, Guenther
Pennatz, Cyriel
Pezzulo, Giovanni
Polani, Daniel
Polizzi di Sorrentino, Eugenia
Puglisi Allegra, Stefano
Raffone, Antonino
Redgrave, Peter
Romani, Armando
Rossi, Silvia
Sabbatini, Gloria
Santucci, Vieri
Schmidhuber, Juergen
Seepanomwan, Kristsana
Shaw, Patricia
Siddique, Mia Nazmul
Sperati, Valerio
Staffa, Mariacarla
Stollenga, Marijn
Tamilia, Eleonora
Taffoni, Fabrizio
Teulière, Céline
Triesch, Jochen
Tummolini, Luca
van den Bosch, Kirsten
Vershure, Paul

Accommodation, lunches, coffee breaks, dinners


you can find a list of Hotels very close to Centro Congressi Cavour.

Here you can find some information about the area Rione Monti, one of the nicest areas of Rome, very close to Centro Congressi Cavour (10-15 mins on foot).
Dinners are on you: Rione Monti is a nice place where there are many restaurants, ice-cream kiosks, pubs and bars.
Free buffet lunches and coffee breaks are offered by IM-CLeVeR directly at the conference venue. 

via panisperna