Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Socially-assistive robots help kids with autism learn by providing personalized prompts

Date:
August 28, 2014
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Children with autism spectrum disorders showed improved or maintained performance in learning imitative behavior by interacting with humanoid robots that provided graded cueing, an occupational therapy technique that shapes behavior by providing increasingly specific cues to help a person learn new skills.

Nao robot in the experimental set-up, from the child subject's perspective.
Credit: USC Viterbi

This week, a team of researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering will share results from a pilot study on the effects of using humanoid robots to help children with autism practice imitation behavior in order to encourage their autonomy. Findings from the study, entitled "Graded Cueing Feedback in Robot-Mediated Imitation Practice for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders," will be presented at the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Aug. 27.

Related Articles


The pilot study was led by Maja Matarić, USC Viterbi Vice Dean for Research and the Chan Soon-Shiong Chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience and Pediatrics, whose research focuses on how robotics can help those with various special needs, including Alzheimer's patients and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research team included doctoral student Jillian Greczek, postdoctoral researcher Amin Atrash, and undergraduate computer science student Edward Kaszubski.

"There is a vast health care need that can be aided by intelligent machines capable of helping people of all ages to be less lonely, to do rehabilitative exercises, and to learn social behaviors," said Matarić. "There's so much that can be done that can complement human care as well as other emerging technologies."

For the study, the researchers examined how children with ASD react to humanoid robots that provide graded cueing, an occupational therapy technique that shapes behavior by providing increasingly specific cues, or prompts, to help a person learn new or lost skills. Matarić and her team divided a group of 12 high-functioning children with ASD into two groups, one experimental and one control. Each child then played an imitation game ("copycat") with a Nao robot that asked the child to imitate 25 different arm poses.

"In this study we used graded cueing to develop the social skill of imitation through the copycat game," said Jillian Greczek, who oversaw the study. "Our hope is that learning such skills could be generalized. So, if a child with autism is at recess with friends, and some kids are playing Red Light/Green Light, the child might look at the game and say, 'Oh, I see how to play, and I can play with them too."'

When a child in either group imitated the pose correctly, the robot flashed its eyes green, nodded, or said "Good job!" When a child in the control group failed to imitate the pose correctly, the robot simply repeated the command without variation. However, for the experimental group participants, the Nao robot offered varied prompting when a child did not copy the pose accurately, at first providing only verbal cues and then following up with more detailed instructions and demonstrations of the pose.

The study showed that children who received the varied prompting (graded cueing feedback) until the correct action was achieved, showed improved or maintained performance, while children who did not receive graded cueing regressed or stayed the same. These results suggest that varied feedback was more effective and less frustrating to the study participants than merely receiving the same prompt repeatedly when they did not imitate the pose correctly. Furthermore it demonstrates that a socially assistive robot can be effective at providing such feedback.

Although this study did not exercise the graded cueing model to its fullest, the preliminary results show promise for the use of this technique to improve user autonomy through robot-mediated intervention. Matarić hopes that, within a decade, children with ASD might have their own personal robots to assist them with therapy, help prompt them through daily tasks, coach them through interactions with others, and encourage them to play with peers.

"The idea is to eventually give every child a personalized robot dedicated to providing motivation and praise and nudges toward more integration," Matarić said.

This pilot study is part of ongoing work in socially assistive robotics under Matarić at The Interaction Lab, part of the USC Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RASC), the USC Robotics Labs, and the USC Viterbi Computer Science Department. Research at The Interaction Lab focuses on the development of adaptive and personalized socially assistive robots that can help people with special needs to incorporate new healthy and therapeutic behaviors into their everyday lives.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Socially-assistive robots help kids with autism learn by providing personalized prompts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140828170021.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2014, August 28). Socially-assistive robots help kids with autism learn by providing personalized prompts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140828170021.htm
University of Southern California. "Socially-assistive robots help kids with autism learn by providing personalized prompts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140828170021.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Microsoft has robotic security guards working at its Silicon Valley Campus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) This is the latest development in an antitrust investigation accusing Google of unfairly prioritizing own products and services in search results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Nintendo released new "Super Smash Bros." Friday, and it's getting great reviews. Could this mean a comeback for the gaming company? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins