Narrative Constructions for the Organization of Self Experience: Proof of Concept via Embodied Robotics

Front Psychol. 2017 Aug 15;8:1331. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01331. eCollection 2017.


It has been proposed that starting from meaning that the child derives directly from shared experience with others, adult narrative enriches this meaning and its structure, providing causal links between unseen intentional states and actions. This would require a means for representing meaning from experience-a situation model-and a mechanism that allows information to be extracted from sentences and mapped onto the situation model that has been derived from experience, thus enriching that representation. We present a hypothesis and theory concerning how the language processing infrastructure for grammatical constructions can naturally be extended to narrative constructions to provide a mechanism for using language to enrich meaning derived from physical experience. Toward this aim, the grammatical construction models are augmented with additional structures for representing relations between events across sentences. Simulation results demonstrate proof of concept for how the narrative construction model supports multiple successive levels of meaning creation which allows the system to learn about the intentionality of mental states, and argument substitution which allows extensions to metaphorical language and analogical problem solving. Cross-linguistic validity of the system is demonstrated in Japanese. The narrative construction model is then integrated into the cognitive system of a humanoid robot that provides the memory systems and world-interaction required for representing meaning in a situation model. In this context proof of concept is demonstrated for how the system enriches meaning in the situation model that has been directly derived from experience. In terms of links to empirical data, the model predicts strong usage based effects: that is, that the narrative constructions used by children will be highly correlated with those that they experience. It also relies on the notion of narrative or discourse function words. Both of these are validated in the experimental literature.

Keywords: function word; grammatical construction; human-robot interaction; narrative; narrative enrichment; reservoir computing; situation model.