Inter-individual Differences in Consciousness Development via a Child-Robot Scenario

Irini Giannopulu, Tomio Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review


The investigation of consciousness is one of the enigma
facing the scientific perspective. There are many theories
of what consciousness is. According to one of them, consciousness is defined as the having of perception,
feelings and thoughts of the internal and the external
world which can be verbal expressed. Multimodal verbal
and nonverbal interactions are joined with emotions in a
continuous dynamic neuronal complex that constitutes
consciousness. Combined cognitive neuroscience and
engineering knowledge, we have used a
perception-action scenario to analyse conscious
processes in association with emotion and oral language
in neurotypical children aged 6 and 9 years old. The actor
was always a child; the perceiver was a human or a robot.
Unconscious emotional expression reflected in
physiological data, i.e., heart rate, as well as conscious
process mirrored on behavioral data, i.e., number of
words and reported feelings, were considered. The results
showed that 1) the heart rate was higher for children aged
6 years old than for children aged 9 years old when the
InterActor was the robot; 2) the number of words
expressed by both age groups was higher when the
InterActor was the human. Contrary to children with ASD
(Giannopulu et al., 2016), neurotypical children would
prefer verbally to interact with humans, as human
complex nonverbal and verbal behavior does not
constitute an obstacle for them in communication. The
present findings would be associated with the
development of un/consciousness. Nonverbal behavior
expressed by heart rate is an unconscious automatic
activity which, in our case, depends on the InterActor
Robot. Verbal behavior given by the words pronounced by
the children is a conscious activity which depends on
Human InterActor. Unconscious and conscious processes
would not only depend on natural environments, i.e.,
humans, but also on artificial environments, i.e., robots.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2017
EventThe 11th International Conference on Cognitive Science - Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 1 Sept 20173 Sept 2017
Conference number: 11th


ConferenceThe 11th International Conference on Cognitive Science
Abbreviated titleICCS
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China
Internet address


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