of Miami developmental psychologists and University
of California (UC) San Diego computer
scientists have studied infant-mother relationships in an effort to
better understand human cognitive development, and to
a realistic baby robot.
Messinger, lead author of the study and associate professor of
Psychology in the UM College of Arts and Sciences, and Paul Ruvolo,
co-author of the study and graduate student in the Computer Science
Department at UC San Diego, have observed infant-mother relationships
in hopes of applying early communication skills
to a robotic baby. This sort of design could help researchers
further understand regarding the development of human learning.
study consisted of 13 mothers and 13 babies between the ages of one
and six months old. The mothers and their babies were observed and
recorded while playing together for five minute intervals weekly.
There were about 14 sessions per day.
observations of the infant-mother relationship concluded that infants
learn turn-taking skills during their first six months of life. Also,
researchers found that patterns form during the mother-infant
playtime, which become more stable patterns over the years as the
babies get older, they develop a pattern with their moms," said
Messinger. "When the baby smiles, the mom smiles; then the baby
stops smiling and the mom stops smiling, and the babies learn to
expect that someone will respond to them in a particular manner.
Eventually the baby
also learns to respond to the mom."
researchers are taking what they've observed from human infant-mother
relationships and applying it to a baby robot. The idea is to give
the baby robot, whose name is Diego-San, social skills and the
ability to learn. Researchers also want Diego-San to mimic human
infant movements, such as shifting their gaze from people to objects.
important finding here is that infants are most likely to shift their
gaze, if they are the last ones to do so during the interaction,"
said Messinger. "What matters most is how long a baby looks at
something, not what they are looking at."
is 1.3 meters tall and was modeled after a one-year-old child. This
baby robot was built by Kokoro
Dreams and researchers at the Machine
Perception Laboratory at UC San Diego.
unique aspect of this project is that we have state-of-the-art tools
to study development on both the robotics side and the developmental
psychology side," said Ruvolo. "On the robotics side, we
have a robot that mechanically approximates the complexity
of the human motor system, and on the developmental
psychology side, we have a fine-grained motion capture and video
recording that shows the mother-infant action in great detail.
is the interplay of these two methods for studying the process of
development that has us so excited."
study was published in Neural