Jerusalem, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- A small fluffy, seal-shaped Japanese robot could help to reduce pain and increase happiness, a scientific study revealed on Wednesday.
The independent research by an Israeli university also showed that contact with the animatronic animal, which is called Paro, reduces levels of oxytocin or the “love hormone”.
Contact of less than an hour with the therapeutic robot can improve mood and reduce the sensation of mild and severe pain, according to the study by Ben Gurion University in southern Israel.
The research team also found that study participants experienced greater pain reduction when they touched the robot than when they were simply in the same room as it.
Scientists also discovered that those who interacted with Paro had lower levels of oxytocin than those who had no contact with it.
High levels of this hormone are usually associated with physical contact between children their parents or between romantic partners but recent studies have shown that the production of this hormone outside of a relationship may be a linked to stress.
This means the robot may also help to reduce stress levels, according to the researchers.
Shelly Levy-Tzedek, head of Ben Gurion’s cognition, aging and rehabilitation laboratory, said the study suggests that there could be “a profound effect of human-robot social interaction on pain and emotions” which could “offer new strategies for pain management and for improving well-being.”
“Our research suggests that social robots can help to alleviate some of the loneliness and other feelings people have from lacking social touch and human interaction,” she added.
She said this could be a crucial factor in public health, especially during social distancing measures enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic.