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Issue Date: 3-Feb-2016
Authors: Conti, Daniela
Title: Robotics and intellectual disabilities: models and treatment
Abstract: Public perception of an emerging scientific and technological product is important for the acceptance of such a product. Ethical studies based on public surveys toward using robots in eldercare and other applications, showed a high acceptance for pet-like therapeutic robot, the human-like care robot, and a surveillance care robot. However, it also reported a rejection in the case of a bathing robot because of the judgment that the robot-based action would be inferior to the human-based action and that it would take away jobs from human workers. Taking into account this scenario, chapter IV (4.1) focus on the acceptance by practitioners that work on a daily basis with children with intellectual disabilities, and on a group of university students from two classes concerned with social professions: education and psychology. Moreover, the purpose of the other study in the chapter IV (4.2) is to examine the acceptance and willingness to use robots among psychology students with Italian (ITA) and British (UK) background cultures in order to evaluate cultural differences in the acceptance of robotics by future psychology practitioners. Both studies were conducted using a platform for Socially Assistive Robotics and a questionnaire based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model. In this case, the aim was to identify the capability of items in UTAUT questionnaire to reveal cultural differences, and, thus, the main factors that may influence each group in the use of robots in their future practice. This negative attitude is one of the biggest challenges that scientific research must address to be completely successful in giving actual benefits in the field of education and care. This rapid progress in technology, especially in the area of robotics, offers numerous possibilities for innovation in the education and care of individuals. Starting from these findings, in the chapter V my on-going research aims to identify effective modalities for treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through interaction with a robot, and to integrate them into existing therapeutic protocols to improve their efficacy. I detail the methodology and give the results of a pilot clinical trial, focused on imitation skills, with three children affected by ASD and Intellectual Disability under treatment in a research centre specialized in the care of children with disabilities. Analysis of these initial results encourages the development of effective protocols in which the robot becomes a mediator between the child with ASD and humans and suggests some research avenues for focus in the future. However, the robotics is not only social. For this reason the aim of chapter VI, is artificial life where the models derived from the data , implement artificial organisms that replicate experimental observations. Specific skills or behaviours are not directly imitated or reproduced, as schematic photographs of a part of reality, but emerge as a result of adaptation processes put in place by the new reality built artificially. Traditionally, artificial life realizes models that simulate psychophysical activities. In fact, in the chapter VI, I will present the experimental results of a cognitive robotic approach for modelling the human cognitive deficit known as Unilateral Spatial Neglect (USN), where I replicated a previous experiment with human patients affected by the USN and iCub robotic platform. The numerical results show that the robot simulate the behaviours previously exhibited by humans and this last work of dissertation highlights some possible advantages of the use of robotic platforms to model and study cognitive dysfunctions of the human brain.
Appears in Collections:Area 06 - Scienze mediche

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