Felix Schoeller
07 rue Saint Claude,
75003, Paris France
Phone: +336 737 42420
Email: felixsch@mit.edu
WWW: http://felixschoeller.fr

My research investigates learning behavior and its neurobiological basis, primarily through the empirical study of emotions underlying problem-solving in humans. I have developed experimental protocols and mathematical models for studying peak learning emotions (such as tears, goosebumps, shivers), and their relevance for the study of problem-solving across domains ranging from mathematics to social cognition. My current research addresses the fundamental role of the body and interoceptive inferences in conscious cognition and the somatic markers of learning emotions. In collaboration with Media Lab at MIT and Karl Friston at UCL, I design technology to enhance conscious interoception and modulate interoceptive inferences during learning, and test their effects at the neural and behavioral levels. These technologies are designed as experimental techniques to trigger learning emotions from the bottom-up (body to brain) with spatial and temporal precision, applying embodied cognition to learning science.

Academic Positions
2019 - … Research Affiliate, Media Lab, Massachusett Institute of Technology, USA.
2018 -  ... Assistant Professor, Institut de Psychologie, Université Paris-Descartes, France.
2018 - ... Lecturer, Behavioral Economics, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France.
2018-2019 Lecturer, Institut de Psychologie, Université Paris-Descartes, France.
2017-2018 Research Fellow, Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires, Paris, France.
2017-2018 Research Engineer, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, France.
2014-2017 Doctoral researcher, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, France.

2017   PhD, Cognitive Science, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
2016   MA, Cognitive Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
2014   MA, Social Science, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
2008   Baccalauréat Scientifique, Lycée Lavoisier, Paris.

2019 Microsoft: / Knight Foundation: New tools for augmenting, enhancing and sharing emotional responses in arts and education (co-PI with Pattie Maes, $200k).
2019 Joy Ventures: New technologies for an applied affective neuroscience: stimulating universal somatic markers for interoceptive modulation (PI, $200k).
2019 PHC Kolmogorov: Development of methods and technologies for expanding human cognitive abilities (co-PI with Dr. Alexey V Melkikh from Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University, $80k).
2019 PRCI (ANR-DFG, Franco-German Call): Empowering Debating Skills: A holistic approach based on embodied virtual reality and biofeedback, integrating cognitive, emotional, social, and physical competences (PI: Franck Zenasni, $200k)
2018 CRI Fellowship: The Satiation of Natural Curiosity (PI, $20k).

Project Leader
  • Frisson is an artificial chills generator. The device is tied to a custom Android application and can be triggered wirelessly and remotely, allowing for single or multiple networked devices to deliver chills at predefined moments during stimuli such as songs or videos. Preliminary results suggest that the device successfully increase the frequency and intensity of chills, and downstream effects on social cognition. Collaboration with Adam Horowitz, Aby Jain, and Pattie Maes at MIT Media Lab, US.

  • MindDB aggregates all existing knowledge about psychogenic shivers (chills, goosebumps, non-thermoregulatory shivers) in a database listing all articles, teams, sensors, results, brain correlates, claims, and stimuli. This open database was exported into RDF, and serves as a basis for a semantic web interface supporting queries. Ultimately, we aim to offer a visual, interactive and queryable tool for researchers to exchange data and ideas. Collaboration with Anirudh Krishnakumar and Arno Klein at Child Mind Institute in NY.

  • iFeel is a search software allowing you to retrieve emotional comments based on their somatic markers (embodied cognition) from YouTube videos. We are using it to search for content related to peak emotions such as chills and their associated metadata (popularity, comments, geography) and design quantitative sociological models of cultural differences in learning. The whole code and project is openly available on Github. Collaboration with Marc Santolini and Raphaël Tackx at Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity in Paris.

  • Fuga is a sound-gesture interface to enhance performance and proprioception, and allow virtually any sound to be controlled at a distance from wearable sensors. Initially designed for dancers, the tool has been deployed at the Kampnagel Theatre in Hamburg and is a collaboration with Clement Le Couedic (Aura Healthcare) and Joseph Harralde (IRCAM).

  • SmartPen is a drawing interface allowing real time biofeedback for parameters such as stress, emotions, and creativity. The device automates a variety of psychological tests (creativity, intelligence, problem-solving) and allows real time tracking of emotions underlying mathematical problem-solving and writing or drawing tasks. Collaboration with designer Sepand Danesh.

Publications in press
Schoeller, F., Horowitz, A., Jain, A., (in press) Augmenting aesthetic chills using a wearable prosthesis: downstream effects on learning, pleasure and social cognition. Scientific Reports.
Schoeller, F., Horowitz, A., Jain, A., (in press) Toward an applied affective neuroscience: modulating interoceptive inference through somatosensory interfaces. Physics of Life Reviews.
Schoeller, F., (in press) Editorial: 10 unsolved problems in cognitive neuroscience. Special Issue “Physics of Mind”, Physics of Life Reviews.
Schoeller, F., & Sivakumar, K. (in press) Emotions underlying early numerical cognition in humans. Center for Open Science. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/wjp6q
Schoeller, F., & Krishnakumar, A. (in press) Investigating the role of psychogenic shivers in mental health. Center for Open Science. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/8tzh5
Schoeller, F., & Mason, J. (in press) Human sociality as spheres of belonging. Center for Open Science. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/8tzh5

Peer-Reviewed Publications
      Schoeller F, Bertrand P, Gerry LJ, Jain A, Horowitz AH and Zenasni F (2019) Combining Virtual Reality and Biofeedback to Foster Empathic Abilities in Humans. Front. Psychol. 9:2741. doi: http://10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02741
       Schoeller, F., Perlovsky, L., Arseniev, D., (2018) Physics of mind: Experimental confirmations of theoretical predictions, Physics of Life Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2017.11.021.
       Schoeller F., Eskinazi, M., (2018) Psychologie du frisson esthétique. Psychologie Française. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psfr.2017.11.003
       Schoeller, F., Eskinazi, M., Garreau, D. (2017) Dynamics of the knowledge instinct: effects of incoherence on the cognitive system, Cognitive Systems Research, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsys.2017.07.005
       Schoeller, F (2017) The satiation of natural curiosity. International Journal of Signs and Semiotic Systems. Volume 5, Issue 2, Article 2, 200516-032707.
      Schoeller, F., Perlovsky, L. (2016) Aesthetic chills: Knowledge-acquisition, meaning-making and aesthetic emotions. Front. Psychol. 7:1093. doi: http://10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01093
       Schoeller, F., (2015) Knowledge, curiosity, and aesthetic chills. Frontiers in Psychology 6:1546. doi: http://10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01546
       Schoeller, F., Perlovsky, L.I. (2015) Great Expectations : Narratives and the Elicitation of Chills, Psychology, 6(15), doi: http://10.4236/psych.2015.616205
       Schoeller, F., (2015) The Shivers of Knowledge, Human and Social Studies, vol. IV, no. 3. doi: http://10.1515/hssr -2015-0022

Selected Presentations
  • 2019 – “Unsolved Problems in Cognitive Neuroscience”, Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Algorithms Session at the 2019 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN).
  • 2019 – “Co-creation, collective intelligence and social engineering”. Open Documentary Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.
  • 2017 – “Dynamics of the Knowledge Instinct”. IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence (CCMB'17).
  • 2016 – “Aesthetic Emotions and the Vital Need for Cognition”. 23rd International Conference on Human Ethology, University of Stirling, Scotland.
  • 2016 – “Understanding Narrative Immersion”. Interactive Mind Centre bootcamps, University of Aarhus, Denmark.
  • 2016 – “Strong Learning Emotions and their Implications for Mind, Brain and Behavior”. IEEE special session Computational Intelligence Society, "Mind, brain and cognitive algorithm", Vancouver, Canada.
  • 2016 – “The Future of Stories”. Cognitive Future at the Humanities, University of Helsinki.
  • 2016 – “Aesthetic emotions and collective intelligence”, Symposium on Empathy organized by Thomas Pavel at the University of Chicago, Center in Paris.

Editorial Work and Awards
  • Editorial board of Cognitive Systems Research, Frontiers in Psychology, Physics of Life Reviews, and Brain and Behavioral Science.
  • Reviewer for Cognitive Science, PLOS ONE, International Journal of Psychology, Cognitive Systems Research, Frontiers in Psychology, Physics of Life Reviews, and Brain and Behavioral Science, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
  • Member of IEEE Computational Intelligence Society
  • Member of the International Society of Human Ethology.
  • Nominated for INNNS Young Investigator award.

Teaching activities
  • 6x3h Classes, “Foundations of Learning”, Master’s level, Learning Sciences Master, Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Paris-Descartes University.
  • 12x3h Classes, “Introduction to Cognitive Psychology”, Bachelor level, Institute of Psychology, Paris-Descartes University.
  • 6x3h Classes, “Introduction to Behavioral Economics”, Master’s level, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris School of Economics.
  • 3x4h Classes, “Cognitive Science of Learning”, Master’s level, Learning Sciences Master, CRI, Paris-Descartes and Paris-Diderot universities.
  • 6x2h Seminary, “Current Advances in Arts, Science, and Technology”, Graduate level, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

Student Supervision
  • Eva Wanek, “Effects of natural restoration on ecologically responsible behavior”, MSc thesis, Paris I Sorbonne, Paris School of Economics, 2019.
  • Mariella Meyer, “Natural restoration and consumer decisions”, MSc thesis, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris School of Economics, 2019.
  • Santino Nanini, “Neurophysiology of aesthetic chills”, Internship report, Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, 2018.
  • Kishore Sivakumar, “Emotions underlying early numerical cognition in humans”, MSc thesis, Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, 2018.


Selected Press
2018. The Conversation. Social determinism starts at school.
2018. Aeon. Psychogenic shivers: why we get the chills when we aren’t cold
2017. Radio France Culture. The principles of knowledge in four minutes.
2015. University Post Copenhagen. Students do the teachings.


Karl J. Friston

Pattie Maes

Leonid Perlovsky
SPbPU, Russia.

Francois Taddei
CRI, Paris