With a degree in psychology and one in linguistics, with some background in philosophy I am recently the head of a newly established Department of Cognitive Science at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Cognitive science in our vision is an encompassing new endeavor that tries to welcome all disciplines and approaches that deal with issues of cognition. We try to establish links between different domains.
The central feature of human cognition is that it is realized in the nervous system, and since it involves processing symbols, it can modeled with or compared to technical systems manipulating symbols. The commitment of our Department is to combine biological and technical approaches to the study of cognition with recent communication and information theories and technologies. With my broad interest in cognition my personal professional activities are rather varied, too.

Research

My main research topics are history of cognitive approaches in different domains (philosophy, psychology, biology, linguistics), psychology of language including both language processing and language development. Lately, a specific interest of mine has become the study of language development in impaired populations, especially in Williams syndrome and developmental language retardation.

Teaching

A new doctoral school in psychology and cognitive science has started this year at our department. We expect international student there, especially of they are interested in visual organization, language, and memory research.
We are trying to attract student with interdisciplinary interests both from our University and from all over the country, with special seminars and with options to work in our labs.

Scientific public service

As a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, I work as deputy chair of the Session of Philosophy and History at the Academy, and also work in the governing boards of some grants and scholarships, like the Bolyai Grant and the Magyary Grant. My aims in these functions are to promote cooperation between psychology and the other disciplines, and to pave the root for the young generations.

Publication efforts

Beside my own publications, I oversee several publications. As the editor in chief of the Hungarian Journal of Psychology, as the psychology series editor of Osiris Publishing house, and as the editor of the Cognitive Seminar series at Gondolat Publishing House, and the (English language) Cognitive Development and Impairments series by Akadémiai Publishing House, I try to work for making Hungarian psychology and cognitive science fit the international publishing standards, and also to bring international trends to the attention of the Hungarian professional public.

Some personal remarks

Sok mindennel foglalkozom, de személyes identitásomban pszichológus vagyok. Ehhez kapcsolódik néhány életviteli és világképi mozzanat. Mint pszichológus hiszek az emberi viselkedés és élményvilág sokrétű meghatározottságában. Ennek következménye a tudományban, hogy gyanakvással kezelem az egyközpontú, mindent egyetlen szemlélettel magyarázó nézeteket. A mindennapokban pedig következménye a türelmes hozzáállás az emberi változatokhoz, valamint az a meggyőződés, hogy az embert mozgató rugói felől kell megérteni, nem kell valamiféle moralizáló fölénnyel lenéznünk az emberi viselkedések sokféleségét. Csodálkoznunk kell, de tudnunk kell, hogy ha nagyon fura dolgok történnek velünk vagy társainkkal, ezek sem teszik oket idegenné vagy lenézendővé.

While my activities are rather varied, in my personal identity I consider myself to be a psychologist. As a psychologist I do believe in the multiple determination of human experience and behavior. As a consequence of this, in my scientific outlook I have reservations about unicentered views. In my everyday life – I hope – as a consequence of this, I am tolerant regarding human varieties, and I am convinced that humans have to be understood from the perspective of their moving forces. We have to wonder about human variety, but always with an awareness that strange things can happen to us or to our neighbors, which do not turn us or them into strange beings.
Within psychology I am committed to the evolutionary model. There are three basic aspects of this in my interpretation. Nature and culture are not juxtaposed in explaining the mind, but are complementary to each other. Our peculiar language and culture do not create a schism between us and the living world, they have to be understood with a scientific attitude where a key moment is a naturalistic explanation of human sociality. The mind and culture as well, have to be studies in a general functionalist frame where each moment has to interpreted regarding its survival value, both in the classical Darwinian sense of this ter, or in the sense of cultural cultivation. The third aspect is that varieties, both in cultures and in people, should not be avoided as nuisance, rather, they have to be made into central aspects of research.
I try to use these principles as guidelines in my everyday behavior. I consider my colleagues and my students as constantly evolving systems, where guidance means assisting in making the available selection of alternatives richer. I am optimist in believing that both subjective wellbeing and cooperation can be increased if we take an open look at our underlying moving forces.
There is a paradox aspect to this. While I am engaged in the study of cognition, I am deeply convinced that the psychology of the feature shall be a psychology centered on issues of motivation.