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Cominelli, L., Mazzei, D., Pieroni, M., Zaraki, A., Garofalo, R., & De Rossi, D. (2015). Damasio’s Somatic Marker for Social Robotics: Preliminary Implementation and Test. In Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems. Springer International Publishing.

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How experienced emotional states, induced by the events that emerge in our context, influence our behaviour? Are they an obstacle or a helpful assistant for our reasoning process? Antonio Damasio gave exhaustive answers to these questions through his studies on patients with brain injuries. He demonstrated how the emotions guide decision-making and he has identified a region of the brain which has a fundamental role in this process. Antoine Bechara devised a test to validate the proper functioning of that cortical region of the brain. Inspired from Damasio’s theories we developed a mechanism in an artificial agent that enables it to represent emotional states and to exploit them for biasing its decisions. We also implement the card gambling task that Bechara used on his patients as a validating test. Finally we put our artificial agent through this test for 100 trials. The results of this experiment are analysed and discussed highlighting the demonstrated efficiency of the implemented somatic marker mechanism and the potential impact of this system in the field of social robotics.