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Why Star Trek's robot spooks us?

Do you get spooked out by human-like robots such as Data from Star Trek? Scientists have explained that such robots are uncomfortable to watch because they spark conflict in...

india Updated: Jul 20, 2011 17:33 IST

Scientists have explained why we find human-like robots such as Data from ‘Star Trek’ uncomfortable to watch. It is because they spark conflict in our brains.

The gap between how we expect them to move and how they actually move causes confusion in the part of our brain, which governs body movement, said researchers from the University of California in San Diego.

They came to the conclusion when they showed 20 test subjects aged 20 and 36 footage of the incredibly lifelike Japanese Repliee Q2 android.

The android has been hailed as the most lifelike in the world and the test subjects were shown a video of it drinking water, picking up some paper, nodding and waving.

The researchers found that when viewed through a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) there was activity in the parietal cortex of all 20.

This is the part of the brain, which connects the section that processes body movements to the part that deals with how we relate to such movements.

Lead researcher Ayse Pinar Saygin, an assistant professor of cognitive science said this is where the conflict took place and led to the feeling of being ‘spooked out’.

“The brain doesn’t seem tuned to care about either biological appearance or biological motion per se,” the Daily Mail quoted Saygin as saying.

“What it seems to be doing is looking for its expectations to be met - for appearance and motion to be congruent,” she added.