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*Motion studies

  - Normal Imitation
  - Studying apraxia

*Neural Computation

  - Modeling apraxia
  - Modeling movements
  - Demyelination model
  - Frames of reference
  - Visuo-motor imitation

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Normal imitation


While the neural processes behind vision and motor control are relatively well decoded, the neural processes behind imitation, (i.e. the ability to transfer a visual image into a motor command) are yet poorly understood. Since 1992, brain imaging studies (e.g. Decety et al. Neuroimage 2002, Iacoboni et al. Science 1999, Grafton et al. Exp. Br. Res. 1996) and neurophysiological studies in monkeys (Di Pellegrinoet al. Exp. Br. Res 1992; Rizzolatti et al Cog. Br. Res. 1996) have identified a number of cerebral areas specific to imitation.

Neural Modeling allows to validate neurological hypotheses. Moreover, simulation of the neural processes complement brain imaging studies by providing information on phenomena that cannot yet be explored in brain imaging set-up.

Modelling the neural processes behind human imitation

In this research project, we investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the ability of animals and humans to imitate and to learn by imitation. We develop computational models that give an abstract and high-level representation of the brain areas involved in imitation. The models are grounded in and validated against neurological and behavioral data on human and animal imitation.  
ImitationModel-Billard-Arbib

The model gives a high-level, comprehensive, but simplified representation of the visuo-motor pathway behind learning by imitation, from processing real video data to directing a complete dynamic simulation of a humanoid. The model has composite modules whose functionalities were inspired by those of specific brain regions, incorporating abstract models of the Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS), the spinal cord, the primary motor cortex (M1), the dorsal premotor area (PMd), and the cerebellum. Each part is implemented at a connectionist level, where the neuron unit is modeled as a leaky-integrator. The model controls the dynamic simulation through the output of motor neurons, that activate two muscles per degree of freedom per joint. Each muscle is represented as a spring and a damper. Neurons in the PMd module respond to both visual information (from STS) and to corresponding motor commands produced by the cerebellum. The STS-PMd-M1 interconnection is a simplified model of a mirror neuron system.

Numerical simulations

The model is embedded in a three dimensional graphical humanoid simulation of a 37 degrees of freedom (DOF) avatar. Shoulders, hips, wrists, ankles and head have 3 DOFs. Elbows and knees have one.  The trunk is made of three segments with 2 DOFs each. All limbs are attached by hinge joints.  The external force applied to each joint is gravity. Balance is handled by supporting the hips; ground contact is not modeled.

Input data for the imitation are recordings of human motions, see the Motion Studies project. We use 3D motion capture systems, which allow fast and accurate measurement of the movement of ten segments of the body, which allows reconstruction of the whole body motion

Cosimir Simulation
The Cosimir avatars, a 3-D simulation of two humanoid avatars.

Xanim and Vtrainer: A dynamic simulation of a 30 degrees of freedom humanoid developed by  Stefan Schaal


Selected publications

Journal Papers

Pending

Learning Dynamical Systems by Imitation through Gaussian Mixture-Handling position and orientation control
E. Gribovskaya, S.M. Khansari Zadeh and A. Billard
Autonomous Robots, Special Issue in Robotics Learning, (2009). [Detailed Record]

2013

Triggering social interactions: chimpanzees respond to imitation by a humanoid robot and request responses from it.
M. Davilla-Ross, J. Hutchinson, J. Russel, J. Schaeffer, A. Billard, W. Hopkins and K. Bard
Animal Cognition, (2013). [Detailed Record]

2012

Learning to play minigolf: A dynamical system-based approach
S.M. Khansari-Zadeh, K. Kronander and A. Billard
Advanced Robotics, 26 (2012) 1967-1993. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2010

Learning Nonlinear Multivariate Dynamics of Motion in Robotic Manipulators [accepted]
E. Gribovskaya, S.M. Khansari-Zadeh and A. Billard
International Journal of Robotics Research, (2010). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning and reproduction of gestures by imitation: An approach based on Hidden Markov Model and Gaussian Mixture Regression
S. Calinon, F. D'halluin, E. Sauser, D. Caldwell and A. Billard
IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 17 (2010) 44--54. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Revisiting a study of callosal apraxia: The right hemisphere can imitate the orientation but not the position of the hand
B. Petreska, A. Billard, J. Hermsdörfer and G. Goldenberg
Neuropsychologia, 48 (2010) 2509-2516. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2009

Statistical Learning by Imitation of Competing Constraints in Joint Space and Task Space
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Advanced Robotics, 23 (2009) 2059-2076. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2007

What is the Teacher's Role in Robot Programming by Demonstration? - Toward Benchmarks for Improved Learning
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Interaction Studies. Special Issue on Psychological Benchmarks in Human-Robot Interaction, 8 (2007). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

On Learning, Representing and Generalizing a Task in a Humanoid Robot
S. Calinon, F. Guenter and A. Billard
IEEE transactions on systems, man and cybernetics, Part B. Special issue on robot learning by observation, demonstration and imitation, 37 (2007) 286-298. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2006

Dynamic Updating of Distributed Neural Representations using Forward Models
E. Sauser and A. Billard
Biological Cybernetics, 95(6) (2006) 567-588. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Building Robota, a Mini-Humanoid Robot for the Rehabilitation of Children with Autism
A. Billard, B. Robins, K. Dautenhahn and J. Nadel
the RESNA Assistive Technology Journal, 19 (2006). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Parallel and Distributed Neural Models of the Ideomotor Principle: An Investigation of Imitative Cortical Pathways
E. Sauser and A. Billard
Neural Networks, 19(3) (2006) 285-298. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Discriminative and Adaptive Imitation in Uni-Manual and Bi-Manual Tasks
A. Billard, S. Calinon and F. Guenter
Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 54 (2006) 370-384. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2005

Robotic assistants in therapy and education of children with autism: Can a small humanoid robot help encourage social interaction skills?
B. Robins, K. Dautenhahn, R. te Boekhorst and A. Billard
Access in the Information Society (UAIS), Springer- Verlag., 4 (2005) 105-120. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Three Dimensional Frames of References Transformations using Recurrent Populations of Neurons
E. Sauser and A. Billard
Neurocomputing, 64 (2005) 5-24. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2004

Discovering Optimal Imitation Strategies
A. Billard, Y. Epars, S. Calinon, G. Cheng and S. Schaal
robotics and autonomous systems, Special Issue: Robot Learning from Demonstration, 47 (2004) 69-77. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2003

Computational approaches to motor learning by imitation
S. Schaal, A.J. Ijspeert and A. Billard
Philosophical transaction of the Royal Society of London, series B, 358 (2003) 537-547. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2002

Imitation of coordinated arm movements
A. Billard, S. Schaal and J. Gordon
Experimental Brain Research, (2002). [Detailed Record]

2001

Learning human arm movements by imitation: Evaluation of a biologically-inspired connectionist architecture
A. Billard and M. Mataric
Robotics & Autonomous Systems, 941 (2001) 1-16. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2000

Synthetic brain imaging: grasping, mirror neurons and imitation
M. Arbib, A. Billard, M. Iacobonni and E. Oztop
Neural Networks, 13 (2000) 975-997. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning motor skills by imitation: a biologically inspired robotic model
A. Billard
Cybernetics & Systems, 32 (2000) 155-193. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Conference Papers

Pending

Trajectory Optimization by Constraints-Based Imitation
F. Guenter, S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, (2005). [Detailed Record]

2011

Learning to Control Planar Hitting Motions in a Monigolf-like Task
K. Kronander, S.M. Khansari-Zadeh and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2011. (IROS 2011)., (2011). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2010

Imitation learning of Globally Stable Non-Linear Point-to-Point Robot Motions using Nonlinear Programming
S.M. Khansari-Zadeh and A. Billard
Proceeding of the 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), (2010). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Evaluation of a probabilistic approach to learn and reproduce gestures by imitation
S. Calinon, E.L. Sauser, A.G. Billard and D.G. Caldwell
Proc. of the IEEE Intl Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), (2010). [Detailed Record]

2009

Handling of multiple constraints and motion alternatives in a robot programming by demonstration framework
S. Calinon, F. D'halluin, D.G. Caldwell and A. Billard
Proceedings of 2009 IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robots, (2009) 582 - 588. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Teaching a Humanoid: A User Study on Learning by Demonstration with HOAP-3
A. Weiss, J. Igelsboeck, S. Calinon, A. Billard and M. Tscheligi
Proc. of the IEEE Intl Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man), (2009) 147-152. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning collaborative manipulation tasks by demonstration using a haptic interface
S. Calinon, P. Evrard, E. Gribovskaya, A. Billard and A. Kheddar
Proceedings of the International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR), (2009). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2008

A Probabilistic Programming by Demonstration Framework Handling Constraints in Joint Space and Task Space
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proc. IEEE/RSJ Intl Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), (2008). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Combining Dynamical Systems Control and Programming by Demonstration for Teaching Discrete Bimanual Coordination Tasks to a Humanoid Robot
E. Gribovskaya and A. Billard
Proceedings of 3rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI'08, Amsterdam, March 12-15 2008, (2008). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2007

Active teaching in robot Programming by Demonstration
S. Calinon and A. Billard
2007 Ro-Man: 16Th Ieee International Symposium On Robot And Human Interactive Communication, Vols 1-3, (2007) 697-702. [Detailed Record]

Using Reinforcement Learning to Adapt an Imitation Task
F. Guenter and A. Billard
In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, (2007). [Detailed Record]

Active Teaching in Robot Programming by Demonstration (Ro- Man'2007 best paper award)
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man), (2007) 702-707. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Interferences in the Transformation of Reference Frames during a Posture Imitation Task
E. Sauser and A. Billard
In Proceeding of the International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks, ICANN 07, Porto, Portugal, (2007). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Incremental Learning of Gestures by Imitation in a Humanoid Robot
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), (2007) 255-262. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2006

Attention mechanisms for the imitation of goal-directed action in developmental robots
I. Goga and A. Billard
Short paper accepted at the 6th International Conference in Epigenetic Robotics, 20-22 Sept 2006, Paris, France, (2006). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

A Neurocomputational Model of an Imitation Deficit following Brain Lesion
B. Petreska and A. Billard
In Proceedings of 16th International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks (ICANN 2006), Athens, Greece. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), vol. 4131 (2006) pp. 770-779. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Biologically Inspired Multimodal Integration: Interferences in a Human-Robot Interaction Game
E. Sauser and A. Billard
In Proceedings of IROS'2006, Beijing, China, (2006). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning Dynamical System Modulation for Constrained Reaching Tasks
M. Hersch, F. Guenter, S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), (2006) 444-449. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Teaching a Humanoid Robot to Recognize and Reproduce Social Cues
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), (2006) 346-351. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

On Learning the Statistical Representation of a Task and Generalizing it to Various Contexts
S. Calinon, F. Guenter and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), (2006) 2978--2983. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2005

Recognition and Reproduction of Gestures using a Probabilistic Framework combining PCA, ICA and HMM
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), (2005) 105--112. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Goal-Directed Imitation in a Humanoid Robot
S. Calinon, F. Guenter and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), (2005) 299--304. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

View Sensitive Cells as a Neural Basis for the Representation of Others in a Self-Centered Frame of Reference
E. Sauser and A. Billard
Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Imitation in Animals and Artifacts, (2005) 119-127. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2004

Three dimensional frames of reference transformations using gain modulated populations of neurons
E. Sauser and A. Billard
Proceedings of 12th European Symposium on Artificial Neural Networks, (2004) 543-548. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Stochastic Gesture Production and Recognition Model for a Humanoid Robot
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ international Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 3 (2004) 2769-2774. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Gesture Recognition and Reproduction for a Humanoid Robot using Hidden Markov Models
S. Calinon and A. Billard
Proceedings of AMI/PASCAL/IM2/M4 Workshop on Multimodal Interaction and Related Machine Learning Algorithms, (2004). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2003

Effect of repeated exposure of a humanoid robot on children with autism - Can we encourage basic social interaction skills
B. Robins, K. Dautenhahn, R. te Boekhorst and A. Billard
Proceedings of CWUATT, 2003, (2003). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Discovering Imitation Strategies through Categorization of Multi-Dimensional Data
A. Billard, Y. Epars, S. Schaal and G. Cheng
Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 3 (2003) 2398-2403. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2002

Computational elements of robot learning by imitation
A. Billard and S. Schaal
Proceedings of the 980th American Mathematical Society, (2002). [Detailed Record]

2001

Mirror Neurons and the neural basis for learning by imitation: A computational model
A. Billard and M. Arbib
Proceedings of the Conference on Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language, (2001). [Detailed Record]

2000

Learning human arm movements by imitation: Evaluation of a biologically-inspired connectionist architecture
A. Billard and M. Mataric
Proceedings of the First IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robotics, (2000). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning motor skills by imitation: a biologically inspired robotic model
A. Billard and M. Mataric
Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems, (2000). [Detailed Record]

Learning motor skills by imitation
A. Billard and M. Mataric
Proceedings of the 7th Joint Symposium on Neural Computation, (2000). [Detailed Record]

Play, Dreams and Imitation in Robota
A. Billard
Proceedings of the Workshop on Interactive Robotics and Entertainment, (2000). [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

A biologically inspired robotic model for learning by imitation
A. Billard and M. Mataric
Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Autonomous Agents, (2000) 373-380. [Detailed Record]

1999

Imitation skills as a means to enhance learning of a synthetic proto-language in an autonomous robot
A. Billard
Proceedings of the AISB Symposium on Imitation in Animals and Artifacts, (1999). [Detailed Record]

1997

Transmitting Communication Skills through Imitation in Autonomous robots
A. Billard and G. Hayes
Proceedings of the Sixth European Workshop on Learning Robots, (1997) 79-94. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Learning to Communicate through Imitation in Autonomous robots
A. Billard and G. Hayes
Wulfram Gerstner et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks, Springer-Verlag, (1997) 763-768. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Ph.D. Theses

2014

Rapid and reactive robot control framework for catching objects in flight
S. Kim
Ph.D. Thesis, 2014. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2012

A Dynamical System-based Approach to Modeling Stable Robot Control Policies via Imitation Learning
K. Zadeh and S. Mohammad
Ph.D. Thesis, 2012. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Imitation Learning of Motion Coordination in Robots
E. Gribovskaya
Ph.D. Thesis, 2012. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2009

Modeling the neural correlates of imitation from a neuropsychological perspective
B. Petreska
Ph.D. Thesis, 2009. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Using reinforcement learning for optimizing the reproduction of tasks in robot programming by demonstration
F. Günter
Ph.D. Thesis, 2009. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Adaptive sensorimotor peripersonal space representation and motor learning for a humanoid robot
M. Hersch
Ph.D. Thesis, 2009. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2008

Neural modeling of the cortical processes underlying imitative behaviors
E. Sauser
Ph.D. Thesis, 2007. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2007

Continuous extraction of task constraints in a robot programming by demonstration framework
S. Calinon
Ph.D. Thesis, 2007. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

1998

DRAMA, a connectionist model for robot learning: Experiments on grounding communication through imitation in autonomous robots
A. Billard
Ph.D. Thesis, 1998. [Detailed Record]

Books

2006

Special Issue on Robot Learning by Observation, Demonstration and Imitation
Y. Demiris and A. Billard
IEEE Transaction on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

The Social Mechanisms of Robot Programming By Demonstration
A. Billard and R. Dillmann
Elsevier, 2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Special Issue on the Brain Mechanisms of Imitation Learning
A. Billard and S. Schaal
Neural Networks, 2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2004

EDITORIAL: Robot Programming By Demonstration
A. Billard and R. Siegwart
2004. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Book Chapters

2011

Imitation Learning (of Robots)
A. Billard and D. Grollman
in Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer, 2011. [Detailed Record]

2008

Survey: Robot Programming by Demonstration
A. Billard, S. Calinon, R. Dillmann and S. Schaal
in Handbook of Robotics,  : MIT Press, 2008. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2007

Learning of Gestures by Imitation in a Humanoid Robot
S. Calinon and A. Billard
in Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions, Cambridge University Press, 2007. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2006

Development of goal-directed imitation, object manipulation and language in humans and robots
I. Goga and A. Billard
in In M. A. Arbib (ed.), Action to Language via the Mirror Neuron System, Cambridge University Press., 2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2004

Effects of repeated exposure of a humanoid robot on children with autism
B. Robins, K. Dautenhahn, R. te Boekhorst, A. Billard, S. Keates, J. Clarkson, P. Langdon and P. Robinson
in Designing a More Inclusive World,  : Springer-Verlag, 2004. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2002

Imitation
A. Billard and M. Arbib
in Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks,  : MIT Press, 2002. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Play, Dreams and Imitation in Robota
A. Billard
in Socially Intelligent Agents, Kluwer publisher, 2002. [Detailed Record]

Mirror neurons, and the neural basis for learning by imitation: Computational modeling
A. Billard, M. Arbib, M. Stamenov and V. Gallese
in Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language, John Benjamins publisher, 2002. [Detailed Record]

Imitation: a means to enhance learning of a synthetic proto-language in an autonomous robot
A. Billard
in Imitation in Animals and Artifacts, MIT Press, 2002. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

1998

Transmitting Communication Skills through Imitation in Autonomous robots
A. Billard and G. Hayes
in Learning Robots: A Multi-Perspective Exploration, Springer-Verlag, 1998. [Detailed Record]

Technical Reports

2004

Imitation, Language and other Natural Means of Interactions we build for our Machines: Do we really want machines to resemble us that much?
A. Billard
Technical Report, 2004. [Detailed Record]

1996

'Allo Kazam, do you follow me?' Learning to speak through imitation for social robots
A. Billard
Technical Report, 1996. [Detailed Record]

Posters

2010

The variability of contact position errors in apraxic imitation
B. Petreska, L. Schneider, J. Buttet Sovilla, A. Billard and M. Aeschlimann
Presented at: Society for Neuroscience Meeting (SfN 2010), San Diego, California, USA, November 13-17, 2010 . [Detailed Record]

A learning by imitation model handling multiple constraints and motion alternatives
S. Calinon, E.L. Sauser, F. D'halluin, A.G. Billard and D.G. Caldwell
Presented at: International Conference on Cognitive Systems (CogSys), Zuerich, Switzerland, January 27-28. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

2009

What apraxia tells us about the brain hemispheres’ contributions to human imitation
B. Petreska, A. Billard, J. Hermsdörfer and G. Goldenberg
Presented at: Society for Neuroscience Meeting (SfN 2009), Chicago, October 17-21. [Detailed Record]

2008

Neurocomputational modeling of imitation deficits
B. Petreska and A. Billard
Presented at: Seventeenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting (CNS 2008), BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9(Suppl 1):P76, Portland, Oregon, USA, July 19 - 24, 2008. [Detailed Record]

Neurocomputational Modeling of Imitation through Apraxia Errors
B. Petreska and A. Billard
Presented at: Workshop for Women in Machine Learning (WiML 2008), colocated with NIPS, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, December 8, 2008. [Detailed Record]

2006

A Neurocomputational Model of Impaired Imitation
B. Petreska and A. Billard
Presented at: first Workshop for Women in Machine Learning (WiML 2006), San Diego (USA), 4 October 2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]

Working Papers

2006

Neural Modeling of Imitation Deficits
B. Petreska, M. Adriani, O. Blanke and A. Billard
2006. [Detailed Record] [PDF Format]


People involved in this project



Last update: 11/03/2008