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Yukie Nagai, Ph.D.

Project Professor

Cognitive developmental robotics for understanding and assisting human intelligence

Research

Human infants acquire cognitive capabilities in their first few years of life. Although the behavioral dynamics of this developmental process has been closely analyzed, the underlying mechanisms remain a mystery. We aim to understand the neural basis of cognitive development by means of computational approaches based on a theoretical framework called predictive coding. In this theory, the brain tries to minimize prediction errors by updating its internal models or altering the environment by active inference. We design computational neural networks based on predictive coding and implement them in robots to investigate how the theory may explain the continuity and diversity of cognitive development. Inspired by these computational studies, we also design assistive systems for developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through this research individuals with ASD would understand better themselves and thereby enhance social activities by making their cognitive process observable.

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Publications

Nagai, Y.: Predictive Learning: Its key role in early cognitive development. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, in press.

Horii, T., Nagai, Y., and Asada, M.: Modeling Development of Multimodal Emotion Perception Guided by Tactile Dominance and Perceptual Improvement. IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, 10(3):762-775, 2018.

Baraglia, J., Nagai, Y., and Asada, M.: Emergence of Altruistic Behavior Through the Minimization of Prediction Error. IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, 8(3):141-151, 2016.

Ugur, E., Nagai, Y., Sahin, E., and Oztop, E.: Staged Development of Robot Skills: Behavior Formation, Affordance Learning and Imitation with Motionese. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, 7(2):119-139, 2015.

Nagai, Y. and Rohlfing, K. J.: Computational Analysis of Motionese Toward Scaffolding Robot Action Learning. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, 1(1):44-54, 2009.

Nagai, Y., Hosoda, K., Morita, A., and Asada, M.: A constructive model for the development of joint attention. Connection Science, 15(4):211-229, 2003.

Biography

I received a B.E. and M.E. from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1997 and 1999, respectively, and then completed a Ph.D. in Engineering at Osaka University in 2004. After working at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and at Bielefeld University for five years, I became a Specially Appointed Associate Professor at Osaka University in 2009 and a Senior Researcher at NICT in 2017, where I gained experience in both international and interdisciplinary research. From 2016, I have served as Project Leader of the JST CREST Program in Cognitive Mirroring. I joined IRCN at The University of Tokyo in April 2019 to continue my research on the neural mechanisms of human cognitive development via computational and robotic technologies.