Researchers from the CNRS and Aix-Marseille University have used a novel approach to demonstrate that interactions with humans activate the brain's social reward system more than discussions with robot interlocutors.
The scientists employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record the brain activity of participants speaking with another human or with a robot. Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (11 March 2019), their findings show that, when compared to a similar conversation with a robot, dialogue with a fellow human significantly increases activity in the amygdalae, basal ganglia, and hypothalamus.
The first two of these brain structures are involved in cerebral reward circuits while the third synthesizes oxytocin, a neuropeptide that specifically promotes the formation of social bonds. The researchers have made their data available to the scientific community for studying the cerebral mechanics that underlie the social behaviour of conversation.
Birgit Rauchbauer et al. Brain activity during reciprocal social interaction investigated using conversational robots as control condition, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0033
Speaking with a robot is not as pleasant as talking to a human: study (2019, March 12)
retrieved 23 March 2019
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Speaking with a robot is not as pleasant as talking to a human: study