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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 56 | 29. August 2017
Priority Programme “Human Performance under Multiple Cognitive Task Requirements: From Basic Mechanisms to Optimized Task Scheduling” (SPP 1772)

In 2014, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Human Performance under Multiple Cognitive Task Requirements: From Basic Mechanisms to Optimized Task Scheduling” (SPP 1772). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

In modern life, people face many different situations that afford multitasking. Usually such situations are associated with performance decrements, failures, and risks of accidents. This Priority Programme aims to bring together different lines of research on human performance under such multiple cognitive task requirements (i.e. multitasking) in order to provide a new integrative theoretical framework to account for this fundamental aspect of human behaviour.

Traditional theories in cognitive psychology consider motor actions as a “late” output-related aspect in the chain of information processing steps that can be studied independently from “central” cognitive processes. However, the notion that motor and cognitive processes are functionally independent is challenged because motor processes are crucial for many forms of skill and often represent a particularly challenging part of task performance. Yet, despite the strong connection of cognition and motor control, cognitive psychology and movement sciences consider the topic “multitasking” from fundamentally different perspectives. While psychology mainly focusses on structural and functional limitations of cognitive processes when facing multiple cognitive task requirements, movement science emphasises the plasticity of cognition and the possibility of training.

In this Priority Programme, we aim to focus on multiple cognitive task requirements of human performance. Therefore, contributions of cognitive psychology and movement science constitute the core disciplines. Of course, other disciplines, such as cognitive neuroscience, that can help to improve our understanding of cognitive and performance aspects of multitasking may provide important contributions to the work programme.

This combined effort allows the Priority Programme to provide an integrated framework that brings together the issues of cognitive structure, flexibility, and plasticity in human multitasking. Specifically, this programme aims at generating a scientific matrix that consists of an array of research topics clustered in the following three broad areas.

  • First, it will provide a new, integrative theoretical framework that reconciles the structural perspective of immutable processing bottlenecks with the more flexible cognitive-control perspective.
  • Second, it will re-examine a flexible processing resources metaphor by referring both to the structural perspective in terms of modality-specific capacities and the flexibility perspective in terms of task requirements, motivational, and emotional modulation.
  • Third, it will assess the plasticity of human cognition and motor behaviour with respect to action optimization in multiple task situations by focussing on training schedules and the resulting learning processes.

In sum, the present programme is aimed at addressing a new research perspective by integrating existing knowledge on a fundamental aspect of human behaviour (i.e., “multitasking”) across different theoretical perspectives and scientific disciplines. This basic research can also contribute to research in more applied contexts, which require high performance in multitasking.

The Priority Programme intends to support early career investigators through workshops, laboratory exchange, a mentoring programme, and it also runs a gender equality programme.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 9 January 2018. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 20 December 2017 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 1772” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Prof. Dr. Iring Koch,
    Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen,
    Institut für Psychologie,
    Lehrstuhl Kognitions- und Experimentalpsychologie,
    Jägerstr. 17–19,
    52066 Aachen,
    phone +49 241 80-96012,
    Link auf E-Mailkoch@psych.rwth-aachen.de

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:


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