Research Topic

Sensorimotor Foundations of Social Cognition

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In classical representation-oriented approaches of social cognition, agents are thought to interact with conspecifics based on their capacity to develop a “theory-of-mind”, i.e., to generate complex models of the intentions, beliefs and personalities of their interaction partners. In this framework, the ...

In classical representation-oriented approaches of social cognition, agents are thought to interact with conspecifics based on their capacity to develop a “theory-of-mind”, i.e., to generate complex models of the intentions, beliefs and personalities of their interaction partners. In this framework, the primary mode of interaction with the social environment is that of a detached observer who theorizes and produces inferences about other participants. In contrast, this Research Topic seeks to turn the spotlight on the grounding of social cognition in dynamic sensorimotor and informational coupling of agents, in human-human as well as human-robot interaction settings. According to this view, interaction dynamics hold substantial clues to the mechanism of social understanding and its disturbances (as for example observed in autism spectrum disorders). The argument is that high-level social deficits may be rooted in the impaired capacity for entraining and sustaining sensorimotor and informational coupling. Beyond novel insights into the mechanisms of functional and dysfunctional social behaviour, the investigation of basic sensorimotor interaction patterns may help the development of socially competent robot technology. Tapping into the same logic, robotic agents sensitive to interpersonal sensorimotor contingencies should have an advantage over technology that does not consider this key aspect of human interaction. With this Research Topic, we provide an interdisciplinary forum for overviewing trends and recent developments in conceptual, methodological and basic research, as well as applications of sensorimotor approaches in social cognitive science, neuroscience, and robotic research. Particularly, a key question is how concepts and methods from social cognitive and neuroscience transfer to human-robot interaction.


Keywords: Social cognition, human-robot interaction, sensorimotor coupling, coordination, embodied cognition


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