Attentional mechanisms for socially interactive robots - A survey

João Filipe Ferreira, Jorge Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This review intends to provide an overview of the state of the art in the modeling and implementation of automatic attentional mechanisms for socially interactive robots. Humans assess and exhibit intentionality by resorting to multisensory processes that are deeply rooted within low-level automatic attention-related mechanisms of the brain. For robots to engage with humans properly, they should also be equipped with similar capabilities. Joint attention, the precursor of many fundamental types of social interactions, has been an important focus of research in the past decade and a half, therefore providing the perfect backdrop for assessing the current status of state-of-the-art automatic attentional-based solutions. Consequently, we propose to review the influence of these mechanisms in the context of social interaction in cutting-edge research work on joint attention. This will be achieved by summarizing the contributions already made in these matters in robotic cognitive systems research, by identifying the main scientific issues to be addressed by these contributions and analyzing how successful they have been in this respect, and by consequently drawing conclusions that may suggest a roadmap for future successful research efforts.

Original languageBritish English
Article number6784518
Pages (from-to)110-125
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Automatic attentional mechanisms
  • bottom-up influences
  • hierarchical/modular architecture
  • joint attention
  • multisensory active perception
  • probabilistic
  • socially interactive robots
  • top-down influences


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