Social Robots for Reinforcing Attention and Forming Emotional Knowledge of Children with Special Educational Needs

By Anna Lekova, Tanio Tanev, Violina Vassileva-Aleksandrova, Snejanka Kostova, Pancho Dachkinov, Omar Bouattane


Emotional child-robot interaction helps catching quickly child attention and enhance information perception during learning and verbalization in children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). This will improve the pedagogical rehabilitation for these children and also develop their emotional knowledge and memory by play-like activities mediated by emotion-expressive social robots. The designed EEG-based portable Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) measures and features in real time the brain electrical activity in order to analyze the correlated attentional or emotional states of a child. The output performance scores are used either by special educators for assessment of the emotional states and cognitive performance of a child or as inputs for robot control in the play-learning scenarios. BCI is a new technology for human-robot interaction and it can evolve into technology for self-regulatory training of attention and emotional skills via neurofeedback exposed on the robot. This study marks a first step towards how to use the advantages of educational theater in Social Robotics to facilitate the perceptual processing of a child and at the same time to augment the emotional talent of an actor to an emotion-expressive robot. A low resolution EMOTIV brain-listening headset is used to translate the head/face movements or child brain activity into robot commands. Then, they are wirelessly transmitted to robot sensors, modules and controllers. Since the attention or emotional responses of children with SEN make robots to act, these skills are naturally reinforced in the play.

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