Human Movement Science

Cognitive and psychophysiological determinants of human performance

Research in this area examines the cognitive processes underlying the optimal learning and skilled performance of visually guided tasks, and how these processes might break down (e.g., under pressure or inaccurate expectations).

Current focus includes:

  • Virtual Reality: Recent work has focused on the development of a new VR lab implementing eye tracking in virtual reality. We are currently using VR to answer fundamental questions about visuomotor skills as well as assessing the efficacy of VR in training cognitive skills for counter terror policing for the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • Cognitive training: We are currently investigating the effectiveness of cognitive training for sporting and military applications in combination with the Ministry of Defence (DSTL).
  • Gaze training interventions (Quiet eye / Feed forward eye movement training): Recent projects have examined how training accurate gaze behavior can expedite the performance of visuomotor skills (and help them be more robust under pressure) in tasks as varied as laparoscopic surgery, military marksmanship, golf putting and penalty taking.
  • Neuro-rehabilitation: Current projects are examining the implicit motor learning interventions for stroke and Parkinson’s patients. We also examining the efficacy of quiet eye training for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder and have developed web resources for parents and therapists (
  • Stress re-appraisals: Recent projects have examined the role of stress appraisals (challenge and threat states) on performance in sporting, aviation and medical environments. Current work is looking at how interventions can manipulate this appraisal process to make it more productive.
  • Youth sport development: Recent projects with both the RFU and the FA have examined the role of competition in youth sport development, and a current project explores factors underpinning talent development in a football academy.
  • Simulation (Human Factors): Recent projects have explored the role of simulation in supporting the learning of visuomotor skills (in surgical, military and aviation environments).
  • Perception and action in clinical populations: Recent projects have examined how conscious experience of the world and the ability to act are affected in distinct ways by central and peripheral deficits.

Key staff:

PhD students:

  • Brad Cooper
  • Natalie Meder
  • Katie Payne
  • Scott Swainston