Perception and Action

The Perception and Action group has a strong focus on action, including its role in perception. Rather than examining passive responses to stimuli, this group studies the more natural cases of an observer responding to changing sensory inputs with saccadic eye movements, accommodation, vergence eye movements, rapid hand movements, navigation and control of steering. The group also studies the perception of pain and, even in this case, there is an emphasis on the modifying effect that behavioural responses can have on perception. There is a strong clinical focus to the research in the group. Examples of the influence the group has on clinical practice include helping to encourage the development of normal binocular vision, evaluating new methods to improve speech deficits in degenerative neurological conditions and improving hand-eye coordination in children with developmental coordination disorder. In a wide range of contexts, the group studies the link between active control of movement and its neural correlates (e.g. Billington et al, 2010). The group has strong links with Microsoft Research in Cambridge and the Robotics group in Oxford and contributes to a broader understanding of the key problems in perception and action (e.g. Svarverud et al. 2012). It has a growing collaboration with members of Philosophy in the new University of Reading Centre for Cognitive Research. In more clinically focused work on young children, the group studies the development of binocular vision and has identified the pattern of accommodation that predicts recovery from early hypermetropia (long-sight), which is likely to influence treatment in this area (Horwood and Riddell, 2011). Another example with important implications for clinical practice is a study showing that the perception of pain is affected by the extent to which a participant believes they are able to control the intensity of the painful stimulus (Salomons et al., 2012).

Perception and Action

Impact   -   Discovery   -   Profile   -   Future
Our research team - Our recent publications

Academic staff

David Field
Lecturer. Office: 1S20; Tel: 5004; Email:
David Field uses fMRI to study the neural basis of the visual control of action. He has demonstrated that the superior parietal lobule (SPL) has a specific role in controlling locomotion direction whenever this is achieved using the visual directions of objects in the scene rather than optic flow. He has also shown how areas of the brain that are traditionally labelled as 'motor' are involved in visual processing related to collision control. His research has been supported by EPSRC and ESRC, and is currently funded via an international collaboration with Hong Kong University.
Andrew Glennerster
Professor. Office: 1S22; Tel: 5554; Email:
Andrew Glennerster studies the brain mechanisms underlying 3D vision, particularly in moving observers. His research has been funded by charities, industry and research councils including the MRC, Royal Society, Wellcome Trust, Microsoft Research and EPSRC. He has set up one of the most advanced Virtual Reality labs in the world to study 3D vision using precisely calibrated, high fideilty head mounted displays and seeks to develop novel computational models of spatial representation in moving observers.
John Harris
Professor Emeritus. Tel: 8522; Email:
John Harris's group, supported by the EPSRC and Parkinson's Disease Society, has shown that patients with Parkinson's disease make errors in space perception, related to the most affected side, affecting patients' judgments of apertures such as doorways. They have also investigated the effects on patients' gait (in collaboration with a biomedical engineering and neurology colleagues at Surrey and Reading).
Aileen Ho
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychologist. Office: 1S12; Tel: 5550; Email:
Aileen Ho is a registered clinical psychologist and experimental psychologist who leads the Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology Group. Her work encompasses ageing and clinical research, particularly in neurological conditions like Parkinson�s, dementia, and Huntington�s disease. Key interests are understanding cognitive, behavioural and speech impairment; loss of everyday function, and impact on quality of life; as well as developing useful behavioural interventions. Aileen is funded by ESRC, Parkinson's UK, HiQ Foundation, and the European Huntington's Disease Network.
Nicholas Holmes
Lecturer. Office: 1S18; Tel: 5543; Email:
Nicholas Holmes' research focuses on the hand, particularly on somatosensory perception and the multisensory control of reaching and grasping movements in healthy adults and children, and in children with motor coordination difficulties. The Hand Laboratory's latest research is funded by the Medical Research Council, and the ESRC. We also study imitation, bodily illusions, multisensory integration, and self-recognition.
Eugene McSorley
Senior Lecturer. Office: 1S16; Tel: 5552; Email:
Eugene McSorley examines the processes which lead to the selection of what to look at next by directly examining the way people move their eyes when they look around their visual world. This behaviour reflects the impact of vision (Glennerster; Field) and Haptics (Holmes), decision-making and reward (McCloy; Chakrabarti), neuroeconomics (McCloy), memory (Beaman), emotions (van Reekham and Johnstone) and aesthetics.
Patricia Riddell
Professor. Office: 159; Tel: 6699; Email:
Patricia Riddell, with Dr Anna Horwood and Sonia Toor, investigates the development of binocular vision. They study the differences in the use of cues to depth (retinal disparity, blur and size change) both across development, and in clinical populations. This research can help both to increase the specificity of diagnosis of visual difficulties, and lead to changes in intervention.
Tim Salomons
Lecturer. Office: 1S13; Tel: 8524; Email:
Tim Salomons is interested in how the brain mediates the transition from innocuous to painful levels of somatosensory input.

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