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Robot Model for Infant Learning Shows Bodily Posture May Affect Memory and Learning

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A robot is taught to distinguish between two objects as part of the research on the effect of body posture on infant learning.

Researchers are using robot models of infants to study how "objects of cognition" are connected to the position of the body.

Credit: University of Plymouth

Indiana University (IU) researchers have used robot models of infants to study how "objects of cognition," such as words or memories of physical objects, are connected to the position of the body.

The study is based on the field of epigenetic robotics, in which researchers work to create robots that learn and develop like children, through interaction with their environment.

"This study shows that the body plays a role in early object name learning, and how toddlers use the body's position in space to connect ideas," says IU professor Linda Smith. "The creation of a robot model for infant learning has far-reaching implications for how the brains of young people work."

The researchers used both robots and infants to examine the role bodily position played in the brain's ability to "map" names to objects.

The study found that consistency of the body's posture and spatial relationship to an object as an object's name was shown and spoken aloud were critical to successfully connecting the name to the object. The researchers arrived at these results by conducting a series of experiments, first with robots programmed to map the name of an object to the object through shared association with a posture, then with children of ages 12 to 18 months.

From IU Bloomington Newsroom
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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