Israeli scientists have found that robots can reduce people’s subjective experience of pain — in the same way as do real people. In their experiment, they used the plush therapeutic robotina PARO: participants who had stroke reported less pain from the heating plate on the arm compared to the control group, to which the robot was not given. While the parties that the robot stroked, decreased levels of oxytocin: the authors of an article published in Scientific Reports, however, consider it as a marker of stress reduction.
Pain is largely a subjective sensation: in addition nociception (the physiological sensations of pain — pulsating activity of afferent neurons) to respond to the stimulus of pain are also important psychological component, that is, gives the source of pain, emotional discomfort. This component allows the person in the future to avoid potentially painful stimuli.
The emotional component of pain largely explains why pain helps to reduce physical contact with others, especially loved ones, human: several years ago, scientists have shown that this is largely a result of the synchronization of brain activity of the pain, and who by their presence and touching her trying to ease.
However, it is unclear who exactly should relate to experiencing the pain of a man: it is clear that the person (e.g., romantic partner) can actually alleviate subjective feelings, but whether to do it, for example, a therapeutic robot (and will it be exactly the same) remains unclear.
To understand this decided by scientists under the leadership of Shelley Levi-Tzedek (Shelly Levy-Tzedek) of the University named after Ben-Gurion. In their work they used soft therapeutic robot PARO: it is made in the form of a baby (Belek) harp seal. Only in their study involved 83: 63 of them had to experiment using the robot, and the remaining 20 did not touch him (and was thus the control group).
At the beginning of the study, all participants completed a questionnaire to determine the mood, and provided a saliva sample — the researchers measured the levels of oxytocin. The researchers then conducted a pre-pain test: the participants had on the analog scale to evaluate their feelings from the heating plate on their wrist. Then, for ten minutes, half of the experimental group was given a bit to play with PARO, and the other half (the control group) — read a book, after which the mood and the level of oxytocin in saliva assessed again.