To help unravel the mysteries of human cognitive development and reach new the frontiers in robotics, University of Miami (UM) developmental psychologists and computer scientists from the University of California in San Diego (UC San Diego) are studying infant-mother interactions and working to implement their findings in a baby robot capable of learning social skills.
The first phase of the project was studying face-to-face interactions between mother and child, to learn how predictable early communication is, and to understand what babies need to act intentionally. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Neural Networks in a study titled "Applying machine learning to infant interaction: The development is in the details."
The scientists examined 13 mothers and babies between 1 and 6 months of age, while they played during five minute intervals weekly. There were approximately 14 sessions per dyad. The laboratory sessions were videotaped and the researchers applied an interdisciplinary approach to understanding their behavior.
The researchers found that in the first six months of life, babies develop turn- taking skills, the first step to more complex human interactions. According to the study, babies and mothers find a pattern in their play, and that pattern becomes more stable and predictable with age,explains Daniel Messinger, associate professor of Psychology in the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the study.
"As babies get older, they develop a pattern with their moms," says Messinger. "When the baby smiles, the mom smiles; then the baby stops smiling and the mom stops smiling, and the babies learn to expect that someone will respond to them in a particular manner," he says. "Eventually the baby also learns to respond to the mom."
The next phase of the project is to use the findings to program a baby robot, with basic social skills and with the ability to learn more complicated interactions. The robot's name is Diego-San. He is 1.3 meters tall and modeled after a 1-year-old child. The construction of the robot was a joint venture between Kokoro Dreams and the Machine Perception Laboratory at UC San Diego.
The robot will need to shift its gaze from people to objects based on the same principles babies seem to use as they play and develop. "One important finding here is that infants are most likely to shift their gaze, if they are the last ones to do so during the interaction," says Messinger. "What matters most is how long a baby looks at something, not what they are looking at."
The process comes full circle. The babies teach the researchers how to program the robot, and in training the robot the researchers get insight into the process of human behavior development, explains Paul Ruvolo, six year graduate student in the Computer Science Department at UC San Diego and co-author of the study.
"A unique aspect of this project is that we have state-of-the-art tools to study development on both the robotics and developmental psychology side," says Ruvolo. "On the robotics side we have a robot that mechanically closely approximates the complexity of the human motor system and on the developmental psychology side we have a fine-grained motion capture and video recording that shows the mother infant action in great detail," he says. "It is the interplay of these two methods for studying the process of development that has us so excited."
Ultimately, the baby robot will give scientists understanding on what motivates a baby to communicate and will help answer questions about the development of human learning. This study is funded by National Science Foundation.
About the University of Miami
The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. www.miami.edu
Marie Guma-Diaz | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.umiami.edu
More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:
Stingray movement could inspire the next generation of submarines
14.11.2013 | University at Buffalo
An intersection of math and biology: Clams and snails inspire robotic diggers and crawlers
12.11.2013 | Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News