Ordered interpersonal synchronisation in ASD children via robots

Irini Giannopulu*, Aude Etournaud, Kazunori Terada, Mari Velonaki, Tomio Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) experience persistent disrupted coordination in interpersonal synchronisation that is thought to be associated with deficits in neural connectivity. Robotic interventions have been explored for use with ASD children worldwide revealing that robots encourage one-to-one social and emotional interactions. However, associations between interpersonal synchronisation and emotional empathy have not yet been directly explored in French and Japanese ASD children when they interact with a human or a robot under analogous experimental conditions. Using the paradigm of actor-perceiver, where the child was the actor and the robot or the human the perceiver, we recorded the autonomic heart rate activation and reported emotional feelings of ASD children in both countries. Japanese and French ASD children showed different interpersonal synchronisation when they interacted with the human perceiver, even though the human was the same in both countries. However, they exhibited similar interpersonal synchronisation when the perceiver was the robot. The findings suggest that the mechanism combining interpersonal synchronisation and emotional empathy might be weakened but not absent in ASD children and that both French and Japanese ASD children do spontaneously and unconsciously discern non verbal actions of non human partners through a direct matching process that occurs via automatic mapping.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17380
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

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