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ERIC Number: EJ917959
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0028-3932
Robotic Movement Elicits Visuomotor Priming in Children with Autism
Pierno, Andrea C.; Mari, Morena; Lusher, Dean; Castiello, Umberto
Neuropsychologia, v46 n2 p448-454 2008
The ability to understand another person's action and, if needed, to imitate that action, is a core component of human social behaviour. Imitation skills have attracted particular attention in the search for the underlying causes of the social difficulties that characterize autism. In recent years, it has been reported that people with autism can bypass some of their social deficits by interacting with robots. However, the robot preference in terms of imitation has yet to be proved. Here we provide empirical evidence that interaction with robots can trigger imitative behaviour in children with autism. We compared a group of high functioning children with autism with a group of typically developing children in a visuomotor priming experiment. Participants were requested to observe either a human or a robotic arm model performing a reach-to-grasp action towards a spherical object. Subsequently, the observers were asked to perform the same action towards the same object. Two "control" conditions in which participants performed the movement in the presence of either the static human or robot model were also included. Kinematic analysis was conducted on the reach-to-grasp action performed by the observer. Our results show that children with autism were facilitated--as revealed by a faster movement duration and an anticipated peak velocity--when primed by a robotic but not by a human arm movement. The opposite pattern was found for normal children. The present results show that interaction with robots has an effect on visuomotor priming processes. These findings suggest that in children with autism the neural mechanism underlying the coding of observed actions might be tailored to process socially simpler stimuli.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A