Department of Psychology

Psychology Colloquium Series: Abstracts

Unless otherwise noted, colloquium are held on Thursdays or Fridays from 3:30-5:00pm in room 1052 of the Teaching Lab Building. For more information on a speaker, or to arrange a meeting with them, please contact either the speaker directly or their UNCW faculty host.

Friday, April 25th, 2014

  • Speaker: Daniel Montoya, Ph.D.
  • Title: EEG mu rhythm as a measure of effective anthropomorphic robotic design.
  • Time & Location: 3:30-5:00pm in the Teaching Lab Building, room 1052.
  • UNCW Faculty Host: Maria G. Espinosa-Hernandez
  • Note that Dr. Daniel Montoya's presentation is being sponsored by Centro Hispano in association with UNCW's Diversity Week (April 21st - 25th).
  • Abstract: Electroencephalographic analysis of the Mu Rhythm (8-13 Hz) has established its utility to evaluate non-invasively the activity of the mirror neuron system. In this study we measured Mu Rhythm in healthy human adults while they watched a video of human and non-human agents grasping an object. The goal was to determine what anthropomorphic target effectors of diminishing resemblance to human anatomy are necessary and sufficient to desynchronize the Mu rhythm. The participants were exposed to a baseline condition of white noise on a computer monitor, then followed with four experimental conditions: the grasping of an object with a human hand, a plastic hand, a robotic hand, and a metallic grasping rod. EEG measurements of each within-subjects condition were divided into 2-second epochs between left and right hemispheres and then processed with a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). The Mu rhythm power of each experimental condition was compared against the Mu rhythm power of the baseline condition and computed as a ratio that was subsequently log transformed. A two-way (hand type by hemisphere) repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) on the log transformed data revealed significant suppression of the Mu rhythm for the human and robotic hand condition, but not the plastic hand or the grasping rod. These results suggest that anthropomorphic robots activate the mirror neuron system provided that their movements resemble that of human anatomy.