When We Look At A Robot, Something In Our Brain Changes

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In a new research published in Science Robotics magazine, researchers have created an experiment in which people benefit from a robot. It was discovered that if the robot looked at human beings, it would eventually influence the behavior and strategy of the players in the game.

“If the robot looks at you when you have to make a decision on the next move, you will have more difficulty making a decision,” says the cognitive neuroscienced Agnieszka Wykowska of the Italian Institute of Technology (which is located in the city “Your brain will also have to use costly and strenuous processes to try to ‘ignore’ that robot look.”

During the experiment, 40 participants sat in front of the iCub humanoid robot (always built by the Italian Institute of Technology), and competed at a game where two simulated cars launched frontally towards the Just before the moment of impact, the game was interrupted and participants were asked to look the robot in the face.

The automaton, in this case, would either meet their eyes or would have turned him away. During this moment, participants had to decide whether to divert the car or to keep it straight. According to the study, the robot’s gaze did not influence the choices made by individual human players, but it did increase their response time slightly.

“The mutual gaze has led to a higher cognitive effort, for example by raising more reasoning on iCub choices,” explain the researchers. This change in player behavior corresponded to a change in neural activity called “synchronized alpha activity” associated with suppression of attention.

Such studies will become more numerous in the future, because humanoid robots will eventually be part of our lives.

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