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COnversational BRAins
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 859588 Call for proposal: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019
Funded under: H2020 | MSCA-ITN-ETN Overall Budget: 4,009,380 EURFunder Contribution: 4,009,380 EUR
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COBRA aims to train the next generation of researchers to accurately characterize and model the linguistic, cognitive and brain mechanisms deployed by human speakers in conversational interactions with human interlocutors as well as artificial dialog systems. It relies on a cross-sectoral international network of 11 world-level academic research centers and 4 non-academic partners with 3 fast-developing SMEs and 1 world-level company. The partners' unique combined expertise and high complementarity will allow COBRA to offer 15 ESRs an excellent training programme as well as strong exposure to the non-academic sector in the emerging field of conversational brains. Training will cover scientific and technical skills, from the joint monitoring of brain and physiological activities in two or more people talking to each other to making multi-language databases, resources and findings available in open access, as well as transferable skills. The ESRs will conduct experimental and corpus studies on the alignment and prediction processes that make conversation between people both easy and fluent, across a large variety of communicational settings and in different languages, to better understand how these processes contribute to setting up brain-to-brain coupling relationships. Collaborative work with non-academic partners will foster the development of more effective and socially acceptable text-to-speech synthesizers, artificial dialogue systems, and social humanoid robots with high-level conversational skills. The project will open new career perspectives for ESRs with interdisciplinary training in language sciences, neuroscience and dialog systems on a very fast-growing digital market. COBRA’s training programme will also have major societal implications as it will concern aspects of the European citizens’ everyday life, from spoken interactions with machines to conversing in a non-native language.

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