Social cognition in the age of human-robot interaction

Anna Henschel, Ruud Hortensius, Emily S. Cross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinion

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Artificial intelligence advances have led to robots endowed with increasingly sophisticated social abilities. These machines speak to our innate desire to perceive social cues in the environment, as well as the promise of robots enhancing our daily lives. However, a strong mismatch still exists between our expectations and the reality of social robots. We argue that careful delineation of the neurocognitive mechanisms supporting human–robot interaction will enable us to gather insights critical for optimising social encounters between humans and robots. To achieve this, the field must incorporate human neuroscience tools including mobile neuroimaging to explore long-term, embodied human–robot interaction in situ. New analytical neuroimaging approaches will enable characterisation of social cognition representations on a finer scale using sensitive and appropriate categorical comparisons (human, animal, tool, or object). The future of social robotics is undeniably exciting, and insights from human neuroscience research will bring us closer to interacting and collaborating with socially sophisticated robots.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number6
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • human–robot interaction
  • social cognition
  • artificial intelligence
  • social robotics
  • fMRI

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