Abstract: Simulating Human Fetal Development
Development is a continuous bootstrap process of complex interaction between genes, body, nervous system and environment. Therefore investigating the global structure of the process from the beginning is crucial for understanding the fundamental principles of human development. With the advent of “4D” ultrasound imaging and fetal MRI, a burst of data has been accumulating about human fetal development. Also, increasing number of reports suggest that perturbation of fetal development may be relevant to later developmental disorders. Besides, compared to infants/toddlers in extremely complex environment, fetuses may allow more principled way of modeling. We constructed a simulation model of a human fetus. It consists of a musculo-skeletal body, uterus, and basic nervous system. It exhibits spontaneous motor development and sensory-motor map organization comparable to human data. Also, by changing the model parameters, we can simulate “abnormal” development. In 2012, we started a project called “Constructive Developmental Science”, collaboration by roboticists, psychologists, medical scientists, and “Tojisha”, the researchers investigating own developmental disorders as internal observers. The fetal development simulation serves as a platform for integrating the interdisciplinary data and experimenting on the effect of early genetic/environmental conditions on the courses of development. The project aims at revealing the fundamental principles of human development, in particular, how embodied sensory-motor processes relates to social cognition, and new understanding of how developmental disorders emerge.
Yasuo Kuniyoshi is a Professor at the Department of Mechano-Informatics, School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Japan. He received B.E. in applied physics, and M.Eng. and Ph.D. in information technology from the University of Tokyo in 1985, 1988 and 1991, respectively. From 1991 to 2000, he was a Research Scientist and then a Senior Research Scientist of Intelligent Systems Division, Electrotechnical Laboratory, AIST, MITI, Japan. From 1996 to 1997 he was a Visiting Scholar at MIT AI Lab., being a member of “ZOO” hosted by Prof. Rodney A. Brooks. In 2001, he joined the University of Tokyo as an associate professor. Since 2005 he has been a Professor there. Since 2012 he has been serving as Director of Social ICT Research Center, School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo. Also since 2012, he has been jointly appointed as Director of RIKEN BSI-Toyota Collaboration Center (BTCC). His research interests include constructive developmental science, emergence and development of embodied cognition, and humanoid robotics. He is the author of over 500 technical publications, editorials and books. He received Outstanding Paper Award from International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Best Paper Awards from Robotics Society of Japan, Sato Memorial Award for Intelligent Robotics Research, Okawa Publication Prize, Gold Medal of Tokyo Techno Forum21, and other awards. He is a member of IEEE, Science Council of Japan (affiliate member), Robotics Society of Japan (Fellow), Japan Society for Artificial Intelligence, Japanese Society of Baby Science, and other societies.