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When Robot Eyes Gaze Back at Humans, Something Changes in Our Brain And Behavior

When you are aware you are being viewed by somebody, it’s difficult to pretend they are not there. It can be hard to bar them out and focus, feeling their gaze bearing lower with you.


Oddly enough, it does not even appear to actually matter whether they are alive or otherwise.

In new information, scientists setup a test where individuals performed a game title against a robotic.

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When the robot researched in the human players throughout the session, it wound up affecting the participants’ behavior and strategy hanging around – a big change that may be discovered in measurements of the neural activity recorded by electroencephalography (EEG) throughout the experiment.

“When the robot examines you throughout the moment you’ll need to consider around the next move, you’ll have a harder amount of time in making the decision,” states cognitive neuroscientist Agnieszka Wykowska in the Italian Institute of Technology.

“Your mind must also employ effortful and pricey processes to try and ‘ignore’ that gaze from the robot.”

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Within the experiment, 40 participants sitting across from your iCub humanoid robot, competing inside a bet on ‘Chicken’ on the horizontal monitor, by which two simulated cars rushed mind-on towards each other.

Right before as soon as of impact, the sport would pause, and also the participants were requested to find information about in the robot – which may either meet their gaze, or close this article. In this instant, the participants needed to decide whether or not to let their cars run ahead, in order to deviate aside.


The outcomes from the experiment demonstrated the robot’s return gaze did not influence the options individual human players made, however it did cause their response time for you to slightly increase, with participants generally responding faster hanging around once the iCub averted its eyes.

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“Consistent with our hypothesis, the delayed responses within-subjects after mutual gaze might point to that mutual gaze entailed a greater cognitive effort, for instance, by eliciting more reasoning about iCub’s choices, or greater amount of suppression from the (potentially distracting) gaze stimulus, that was irrelevant towards the task,” they explain within their paper.

iCubRobotExperimentRepresentation of iCub along with a participant. (IIT)

Based on the researchers, this transformation in player behavior corresponded with a general change in neural activity known as synchronized alpha activity – a brainwave pattern that’s formerly been connected with suppressing attention.

In addition, when viewed over the entire experiment, greater contact with averted gaze (in which the robot didn’t stare back) among participants appeared to assist players disengage in the social interaction using the iCub, and concentrate on their own game play with less distraction.


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Because of the iCub is really a humanoid robot – designed loosely to imitate the form and search of individuals – it isn’t altogether surprising possibly that the robot’s gaze can trigger our usual attentional processes.

However it might have implications for the style of more complex and interactive robots later on, they say.

“Robots could be more and much more contained in our everyday existence,” Wykowska states.

“That’s the reason you should understand not just the technological facets of robot design, but the human side from the human-robot interaction… the way the mind processes behavior signals communicated by robots.”

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The findings are reported in Science Robotics.


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