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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 45 | 24. Juni 2019
Priority Programme “Auditory Cognition in Interactive Virtual Environments – AUDICTIVE” (SPP 2236)

In March 2019, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Auditory Cognition in Interactive Virtual Environments – AUDICTIVE” (SPP 2236). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Considerable progress has been made over the past years in the understanding of auditory cognitive processes and capabilities – from perception, attention and memory to complex performances such as scene analysis and communication. To this aim, well controlled but often unrealistic stimulus presentations were used, involving simple instances of virtual environments. With recent developments in hard- and software technologies, audiovisual virtual reality (VR) has reached a high level of perceptual plausibility that may overcome many of the limitations of simple laboratory settings. Applying interactive VR technology is expected to help understand auditory cognition in complex audiovisual scenes that are close to real life, including acoustically adverse situations such as classrooms, open-plan offices, multi-party communication or outdoor scenarios with multiple sound sources. In particular, VR enables controlled research on how acoustic and visual components and further contextual factors affect perception, cognition, and interaction.

AUDICTIVE brings together researchers from different disciplines – acoustics, cognitive psychology, and computer science/virtual reality – by encouraging joint research efforts to enhance the understanding and competence in the field of auditory cognition in interactive virtual environments, as a proxy to the real world. Up to now, these research efforts have been performed mostly separately within single scientific research communities, using stimuli that often lack the realism of real-life complex scenes. Today, the more realistic and interactive virtual environments that can be created using current state-of-the art VR technology can jointly empower the acoustics (perception and rendering), computer science (virtual reality) and cognitive psychology communities to fully exploit the huge potential of VR for testing and extending their existing theories. At the same time, VR research can benefit from knowledge of auditory perception and cognition to understand the important quality criteria that need to be met to optimise virtual environments in terms of perception, cognitive performance, subjective experience or (social) presence.

AUDICTIVE aims to significantly extend the knowledge of hearing-related cognitive performances in real-life scenes and to enable creating “auditory-cognition-validated” VR technology. AUDICTIVE targets fundamental research addressing the three research priorities (a) “auditory cognition”, (b) “interactive audiovisual virtual environments”, and (c) “quality evaluation methods”, the latter being located at the interface between (a) and (b).

AUDICTIVE targets the three main research priorities:

  • Auditory cognition: Recent theories of auditory cognition and extant empirical findings were predominantly derived from studies with “simple” audio reproduction techniques (such as mono/dichotic representation without spatial cues). Projects in AUDICTIVE shall investigate to what extent these empirical findings and the corresponding cognitive psychological models (e.g., on attention, short-term memory, communication, and scene analysis) hold true – and/or can be validated, modified or need to be extended – in close(r)-to-real-life audiovisual virtual environments. Research questions need to be identified that will benefit from or require the use of interactive VR in experiments on auditory cognition.
  • Interactive virtual environments: AUDICTIVE projects shall investigate how the realism and vibrancy of virtual environments can significantly be improved, in terms of audiovisual representation as well as user interaction, by means of innovative acoustic or audiovisual technology and findings from auditory perception and cognition research. Projects in AUDICTIVE are expected to raise research on the design, development, and evaluation of audiovisual virtual spaces to a significantly higher level when inspired and validated by auditory cognition science. In particular, projects are welcome that investigate how user experience, behaviour and performance in virtual environments are affected by advanced audiovisual cues and results from research on auditory cognition.
  • Quality evaluation methods: Appropriate assessment methods need to be used to reliably validate (a) the results obtained in the area of auditory cognition and (b) the suitability of perception- and cognition-optimised VR-systems to be used when addressing certain research questions. Proposed work may adapt or extend existing or newly develop quality-related measures and design test methods to evaluate VR systems applied for auditory cognition research. Projects in AUDICTIVE will investigate how methods from auditory cognition research can be applied to assess the quality of audiovisual VR in a more holistic manner. Furthermore, AUDICTIVE aims to develop methods to quantify the added-value of interactive VR to auditory cognition research.

For more specific topics and examples, please visit the Priority Programme’s homepage (see below).

To achieve the above objectives, projects within AUDICTIVE should be organised as follows:

  • Each project should preferably be designed as multidisciplinary projects (with a focus on acoustics) of two principle investigators.
  • Each project should preferably address two (ideally all three) research priorities.
  • Each partner within a project has to define his/her own research questions/work packages, and no partner should merely provide a service to the other partner.

The organising committee will foster an open science approach, to develop a comprehensive database of results. All projects are encouraged to include an evaluation of the quality of VR environments for research into auditory cognition or of the validity of research results on auditory cognition in VR environments. The coordination project of AUDICTIVE will integrate the respective methods and data into an evaluation-method framework across all projects.

Proposals and CVs must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 4 December 2019. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2236 Audictive” from the current list of calls.

When preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05 en, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01 en). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. 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 November 2019 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.

Participation by researchers based outside Germany is possible if their project is of added value to the Priority Programme at large. This must be explained in the proposal. Contacting the DFG head office (contact information see below) prior to proposal preparation is strongly recommended, if you plan to submit a proposal based outside Germany.

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:

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:


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