Influence of facial feedback during a cooperative human-robot task in schizophrenia

L Cohen, M Khoramshahi, RN Salesse, C Bortolon, P Słowiński, C Zhai, K Tsaneva-Atanasova, M Di Bernardo, D Capdevielle, L Marin, RC Schmidt, BG Bardy, A Billard, S Raffard
(2017) Nature - Scientific Reports

Rapid progress in the area of humanoid robots offers tremendous possibilities for investigating and improving social competences in people with social deficits, but remains yet unexplored in schizophrenia. In this study, we examined the influence of social feedbacks elicited by a humanoid robot on motor coordination during a human-robot interaction. Twenty-two schizophrenia patients and twenty-two matched healthy controls underwent a collaborative motor synchrony task with the iCub humanoid robot. Results revealed that positive social feedback had a facilitatory effect on motor coordination in the control participants compared to non-social positive feedback. This facilitatory effect was not present in schizophrenia patients, whose social-motor coordination was similarly impaired in social and non-social feedback conditions. Furthermore, patients’ cognitive flexibility impairment and antipsychotic dosing were negatively correlated with patients’ ability to synchronize hand movements with iCub. Overall, our findings reveal that patients have marked difficulties to exploit facial social cues elicited by a humanoid robot to modulate their motor coordination during human-robot interaction, partly accounted for by cognitive deficits and medication. This study opens new perspectives for comprehension of social deficits in this mental disorder.