Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


What it means to be Human - A Nest Pathfinder Initiative, EUR 22427

Funded under: FP6-NEST


How and why are humans different? What features make our cognitive facilities unique and what are the origins of these features? The focal questions behind the NEST Pathfinder initiative, What it Means to Be Human, foster cross-disciplinary research projects that bring to bear the latest insights from fields including genetics, biology, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and anthropology to help generate answers for one of science's most elusive subjects.
The questions are scientifically precise and limited, but can be addressed from a number of disciplinary angles. In particular, What it Means to Be Human aims to address:
- the evolutionary dimension of individual development as regards to human cognitive faculties, taking account of the range of relevant factors from genetics to cultural context;
- the influence of change of life circumstances on the development of cognitive functions, such as the development of language and non-verbal communication;
- executive functions, reasoning and decision-making, including cooperative behaviour, which might also take account of relationships between conscious and unconscious aspects of behaviour.
With its common values, varied cultures, and strong research tradition in many of the relevant fields, Europe has a vital interest in this area and real potential for fostering scientific progress.
This progress would have considerable future benefits. By understanding the specific nature and limits of human conceptual reasoning, for example, it would be possible to devise more powerful artificial learning technologies. Improved education strategies could be developed as a result of further knowledge of specifically human capabilities to perceive and encode information and experience. Furthermore, greater insight into the origins of human motivation, social behaviour and cooperation would assist the design of social and cultural institutions to accommodate human needs in better ways.

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Record Number: 8575 / Last updated on: 2007-06-18
Category: MISC