UC's Dept. of Psychology awarded $1.4 million grant

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The University of Cincinnati's Department of Psychology was awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop computerized models of how social interaction and movement influence each other.

Researchers will be examining interactive social tasks – such as joke-telling and martial arts moves – to see how mind, reason and movement deeply influence each other.

The five-year project is anticipated to have a transformative impact on numerous fields, including the study of autism, schizophrenia, human movement and human interactions with robotics.

"The cognitive system and the motor system continually influence each other," explains principal investigator Michael Richardson, a UC associate professor of psychology. "It's not like a linear relationship. It's more complicated than that, but when there's some kind of diminished social functioning in people, there's a breakdown in the physical and behavioral coordination with others. So, what we're seeing is a link between cognition and action."

The exercises will be conducted in the UC Psychology Department's Perceptual Motor Dynamics Laboratory, which includes a virtual reality simulator and motion-capture equipment. Experiments will also include interactions with model-driven avatars to explore whether interactions with those models are the same as interactions with humans. 

Research on competitive sports tasks will be conducted at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., under the supervision of co-principal investigator Richard Schmidt.

The UC Department of Psychology is recognized nationally for the quality of its undergraduate major and the excellence of its graduate training programs in clinical and experimental psychology.

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