Does a humanoid robot in front of you activate your mirror neuron system?


In the present study, we attempted to evaluate the human-likeness of a humanoid robot named Robovie by using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Since the activity of the human mirror neuron system (MNS) is believed to reflect the perceived human-likeness of observed agents, we compared MNS activity during observations of an action performed by a human and Robovie. Seven males and ten females participated. There were four observation conditions such as live-human, live-robot, video-human and video-robot. In addition the participants executed the same action by their selves to confirm the location of motor-related brain areas. MNS activity was the largest in the live-human condition in line with previous studies. Our interesting finding was, however, that MNS activity was larger in the live-robot condition than the video-human condition. This suggests that we perceive a humanoid robot in front of us as a more human-like being than a videotaped human.

Back to Table of Contents