Who needs emotions? The brain meets the robot

Jean Marc Fellous, Michael A. Arbib

Research output: Book/ReportBook

67 Scopus citations


The idea that one day robots may have emotions has captured the imagination of many and has been dramatized by robots and androids in many famous movies. This book tackles the issue of whether robots can have emotions from a purely scientific point of view. The study of the brain now usefully informs study of the social, communicative, adaptive, regulatory, and experiential aspects of emotion and offers support for the idea that we exploit our own psychological responses in order to feel others' emotions. The chapters in this book show the many ways in which the brain can be analyzed to shed light on emotions. Fear, reward, and punishment provide structuring concepts for a number of investigations. Neurochemistry reveals the ways in which different 'neuromodulators' such as serotonin, dopamine, and opioids can affect the emotional balance of the brain. And studies of different regions such as the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex provide a view of the brain as a network of interacting subsystems. Related studies in artificial intelligence and robotics are discussed, and new multi-level architectures are proposed that make it possible for emotions to be implanted. It is now an accepted task in robotics to build robots that perceive human expressions of emotion and can 'express' simulated emotions to ease interactions with humans. Looking towards future innovations, some scientists posit roles for emotion as a powerful self-motivational tool as well as a way to work effectively in a group. But daunting questions remain as we ask what may be the nature of emotions in future generations of robots that share neither our biological heritage nor our need to share emotions with our fellow humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages416
ISBN (Electronic)9780199847020
ISBN (Print)9780195166194
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012


  • Emotions
  • Fear
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neuromodulators
  • Punishment
  • Reward
  • Robotics
  • Robots
  • Simulated emotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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