Tuesday, July 22, 2008

fMRI of perspective taking with robots!

Here is a quirky item... set up a human machine interaction, and as the machine is given more human-like response characteristics, parts of our brain that do 'theory of mind' (attributing intentions to others, etc.) become active. We humanize the robot. From the paper:
When our PC goes on strike again we tend to curse it as if it were a human being. Why and under which circumstances do we attribute human-like properties to machines? Although humans increasingly interact directly with machines it remains unclear whether humans implicitly attribute intentions to them and, if so, whether such interactions resemble human-human interactions on a neural level. In social cognitive neuroscience the ability to attribute intentions and desires to others is being referred to as having a Theory of Mind (ToM). With the present study we investigated whether an increase of human-likeness of interaction partners modulates the participants' ToM associated cortical activity.

...we investigated cortical activity modulation during highly interactive human-robot game. Increasing degrees of human-likeness for the game partner were introduced by means of a computer partner, a functional robot, an anthropomorphic robot and a human partner. The classical iterated prisoner's dilemma game was applied as experimental task which allowed for an implicit detection of ToM associated cortical activity...functional imaging data revealed a highly significant linear increase of cortical activity in the medial frontal cortex as well as in the right temporo-parietal junction in correspondence with the increase of human-likeness of the interaction partner...

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