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Understanding mirror neurons: A bio-robotic approach

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This paper reports about our investigation on action understanding in the brain. We review recent results of the neurophysiology of the mirror system in the monkey. Based on these observations we propose a model of this brain system which is responsible for action recognition. The link between object affordances and action understanding is considered. To support our hypothesis we describe two experiments where some aspects of the model have been implemented. In the first experiment an action recognition system is trained by using data recorded from human movements. In the second experiment, the model is partially implemented on a humanoid robot which learns to mimic simple actions performed by a human subject on different objects. These experiments show that motor information can have a significant role in action interpretation and that a mirror-like representation can be developed autonomously as a result of the interaction between an individual and the environment.
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Keywords: action recognition; mirror neurons; neurophysiology; robotics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: LIRA-Lab, DIST, University of Genoa 2: Neurolab, Section of Human Physiology, University of Ferrara

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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