Full Professor, CYU INEX Chair Neuroscience and Robotics, Director of ETIS

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Neurocybernetics (Néurocybernetique)

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Full Professor and Chair of Neuroscience and Robotics at the Neurocybernetics Team of the ETIS Lab, CY Cergy Paris University, France, and (honorary) Visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, where she was faculty from 2001 to 2020.
She holds a “Licenciatura” in Philosophy from the Complutense University of Madrid and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Paris-XI. She turned to Embodied AI as a postdoct with Rodney Brooks at MIT AI-Lab (USA) and with Luc Steels at VUB AI-Lab (Belgium).
Since 1995, her research investigates the interactions between motivation, emotion and embodied cognition from the perspectives of adaptation, development and evolution, using autonomous and social robots. Projects include the EU-funded HUMAINE (on emotion-oriented technology), FEELIX-GROWING (on emotion development in humans, non-human primates and robots), and ALIZ-E (on social companions for children with diabetes), or the UH-funded Autonomous Robots as Embodied Models of Mental Disorders. She has played a pioneering role in the emotion modeling community. She is author or co-author of over 150 peer-reviewed publications.

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Research activities

My research centers around the origins, constituents and dynamics of embodied cognition, which I am exploring in artificial autonomous and social agents (robots and artificial life simulations) within an “embodied cognition” framework and drawing on the cybernetics tradition. I am particularly interested in investigating the interplay between motivation, emotion and cognition in embodied agents situated in and interacting with their “physical” and social world, the rich dynamics of such interplay and its effect on development, learning, and adaptation.

My models are grounded on a (artificial) physiology and notions such as metabolism and homeostasis, and on the role(s) that emotional phenomena play in various aspects of intelligence, adaptation, behavior, and interaction, particularly via mechanism such as hormonal/chemical modulation and its interaction dynamics.

Research topics include:

Affect-based action selection: Embodied robot models of motivated behavior for action selection/decision making.  Pain and pleasure in action selection.

  • Embodied computational psychiatry: Robots as embodied models of (affect-related) mental disorders.
  • Developmental robotics: Modeling affective-cognitive development in robots interacting with other agents (including humans); models of attachment
  • Artificial life: the evolution of affective behavior and displays, the evolution of (affect-related) robot controllers
  • Artificial societies: the emergence of social groups, norms and their dynamics based on affective mechanisms and relationships.

Ongoing projects

Current projects include:

  • Paris-Seine INEX Chair Neuroscience and Robotics (01/09/2020 to 31/08/2025)
  • “Pain and Pleasure in the Motivation-Emotion-Cognition Loop: Robots as Tools and Models”, as part of the INEX Chair NEUROBOT. PhD student: Louis L’Haridon (15/11/2021 to 14/11/2024)
  • EUTOPIA PhD co-tutelle “Computational modelling of language learning in robots: the development of meaning potentials in social and emotional contexts”, with Dr Laura Cohen (CYU) and Prof. Ann Nowé (VUB). PhD student: Zakaria Lemhaouri (01/10/2021 to 30/09/2025)
  • “Embodied Affective Cognition and the Dynamics of Affect-Based Relationships and Interactions”, in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Polani and Dr Matthew Lewis, University of Hertfordshire, UK. PhD student (UH): Stavros Anagnou (01/04/2020 to 31/03/2023).
  • “Autonomous Robots as Embodied Models of Mental Disorders”, with Dr Matthew Lewis and Prof. Naomi Fineberg (University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, and University of Cambridge, UK). (UH funding 01/01/2017 to 31/12/2021).