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On the impact of robotics in behavioral and cognitive sciences: from insect navigation to human cognitive development

Pierre-yves Oudeyer 1, * 
* Corresponding author
Abstract : The interaction of robotics with behavioral and cog- nitive sciences has always been tight. As often described in the lit- erature, the living has inspired the construction of many robots. Yet, in this article, we focus on the reverse phenomenon: building robots can impact importantly the way we conceptualize behavior and cognition in animals and humans. This article presents a se- ries of paradigmatic examples spanning from the modelling of in- sect navigation, the experimentation of the role of morphology to control locomotion, the development of foundational representa- tions of the body and of the self/other distinction, the self-organi- zation of language in robot societies, and the use of robots as ther- apeutic tools for children with developmental disorders. Through these examples, I review the way robots can be used as operational models confronting specific theories to reality, or can be used as proof of concepts, or as conceptual exploration tools generating new hypotheses, or used as experimental set ups to uncover par- ticular behavioral properties in animals or humans, or even used as therapeutic tools. Finally, I discuss the fact that in spite of its role in the formation of many fundamental theories in behavioral and cognitive sciences, the use of robots is far from being accepted as a standard tool and contributions are often forgotten, leading to regular rediscoveries and slowing down cumulative progress. The article concludes by highlighting the high priority of further his- torical and epistemological work.
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Pierre-yves Oudeyer. On the impact of robotics in behavioral and cognitive sciences: from insect navigation to human cognitive development. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, IEEE, 2010, 2 (1), pp.2--16. ⟨inria-00541783⟩

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