Professor Mark Wilson
Professor

Research

Research interests

I have an applied and theoretical interest in understanding the influence of stress and anxiety on performance, and developing training that might mitigate against these negative effects. A major focus of this work has been the study of objective measures of visual attention (primarily using mobile gaze tracking technology) and cardio-vascular responses to stress.

Research projects

Applied Research:

  1. Performance improvement via gaze training (Quiet eye / Feed forward eye movement training): Recent (and current) projects have examined how training accurate gaze behaviour 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.
  2. Neuro-rehabilitation: Current projects are examining the efficacy of quiet eye training for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (with Greg Wood ) and implicit motor learning interventions for stroke (with colleagues at M-I-N-D) and Parkinson’s patients (with Will Young).
  3. Stress 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 the efficacy of interventions designed to re-appraise physiological symptoms.
  4. 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.
  5. Simulation (Human Factors): Recent projects have explored the role of simulation in supporting the learning of visuomotor skills (in surgical, military and aviation environments).

Theoretical / Fundamental Research:

  1. The anxiety-performance relationship: Current collaborations are developing theoretical explanations for choking in sport (with Prof Eysenck and with Dr Vine); the role of attentional control and working memory in mediating this relationship (with Prof Derakshan); and the (dis)functional role of reinvestment (with Prof Masters).
  2. The causal role of quiet eye: Current PhD projects are attempting to further our understanding of how the quiet eye helps to support visuomotor performance.  Collaborations are ongoing with Prof Vickers, and Prof Ring.

Grants/Funding:

In total, I have been involved in successfully capturing over £2m of funding since 2008 (>£800k as principal, or senior investigator) for research into the learning and performance of motor skills.  

  1. 04/2017 – 10/2021: Psychological characteristics underpinning talent development in a football academy. Joint funded PhD with Exeter City Football Club and University of Exeter (Principal Investigator).
  2. 02/2017 – 04/2018: Using analogies to overcome freezing of gait: A first step towards making the first step. Parkinson’s UK Small Grants Scheme (Co-investigator with Dr Will Young, Brunel).
  3. 01/2017 – 06/2017: Development of a school-based skill learning intervention for children with motor coordination difficulties. ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Impact Cultivation Award Principal Investigator).
  4. 11/2016 – 03/2018: TIN 3.233. Feed forward eye movement training for room clearance and parachuting. Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC: Principal Investigator).
  5. 09/2016 – 06/2018: TIN 3.215. Identification and evaluation of tools to enhance cognitive performance? Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC: Co-Investigator with Dr Sam Vine, Exeter).
  6. 09/2016 – 06/2017: Observational learning of surgical skills on the da Vinci system. Intuitive Surgical Research Grants Scheme. (Co-Investigator with Dr Gavin Buckingham, Exeter).
  7. 07/2016 – 12/2016: The development of immersive human factors training for safety critical and high performance industries. ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Impact Cultivation Award (Co-Investigator with Dr Sam Vine, Exeter).
  8. 12/2015 – 12/2016: Athletes' Goal-Directed Attentional Control under Pressure. China Social Science Funding (Co-investigator, with Prof Liwei Zhang, Beijing Sports University)
  9. 06/2015 – 12/2015: Developing evidence based training for surgeons. ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Impact cultivation award (Co-investigator with Dr Sam Vine, Exeter).
  10. 05/2015 – 05/2019: The power of implicit motor learning 2.0: Improving walking with implicit motor learning strategies and simple technologies in people with cognitive impairments after stroke. RAAK-PRO, Stichting Innovatie Alliantie (SIA), The Netherlands. (Co-Investigator with Dr Susy Braun). www.m-i-n-d.org
  11. 05/2015 – 10/2016: TIN 3.152. Can parachuting skills be improved by the use of feed forward eye movement training? Part 1 - A Review. Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC: Principal Investigator).
  12. 02/2015 – 02/2016: Human Factors in Aviation. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Project Co-Creation Fund. (Co-investigator with Dr Sam Vine, Exeter).
  13. 01/2015 – 01/2016: Does quiet eye training improve visuomotor planning and control in children with DCD II – A group-based intervention (Extension Project). HEFCE (Liverpool Hope University; Co-investigator with Dr Greg Wood) and The Waterloo Foundation (Principal Investigator).
  14. 09/2014 - 08/2017: Reappraising stress to induce a challenge state. PhD funded by Commonwealth Fund. (Co-investigator with Dr Sam Vine, University of Exeter)
  15. 09/2014 – 07/2015: Growing grass roots football in England. The Football Association. (Principal Investigator).
  16. 02/2014 - 01/2017: Talent identification and development in a Football Academy. Joint funded PhD by Exeter City Football Club, The Open Innovation Platform, and University of Exeter (Principal Investigator).
  17. 09/2012 – 08/2014: Does quiet eye training improve visuomotor planning and control in children with DCD? The Waterloo Foundation (Principal Investigator).
  18. 04/2012 – 06/2014: Facilitating Movement Implicitly (FMI): Implicit motor learning in patients with cognitive impairments: Framework, strategies and tools. RAAK-International Project, Stichting Innovatie Alliantie (SIA), The Netherlands. (Co-Investigator with Dr Susy Braun). www.m-i-n-d.org
  19. 09/2013 – 09/2015: Examining allocation of attention and gaze behaviour as a function of movement specific reinvestment in older Hong Kong adults at risk of falling. General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (Co-Investigator with Prof Rich Masters, HKU).
  20. 02/2013 – 04/2014: The da Vinci robot vs. conventional laparoscopy: Examining benefits for the surgeon. Intuitive Surgical Research Grants Scheme. (Co-Investigator with Dr Sam Vine, Exeter).
  21. 10/2012 – 12/2013: TIN 3.012. Training for small arms operators: Developing methods to assess and improve performance in a simulated maritime environment.  Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC: Principal Investigator).
  22. 10/2010 - 09/2013: Developmentally appropriate rugby union. ESRC Case studentship (with the Rugby Football Union) via the University of Exeter’s Capacity Building Cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism (Principal Investigator).
  23. 08/2010 – 02/2012: Human factors in simulated surgery. Surgical research fellow funding from Exeter Surgical Health Services Research Unit, Exeter RD&E NHS Foundation Trust (Co-Investigator with Mr John McGrath / Research lead).
  24. 01/2010 – 06/2010: Gaze control training for golfers. ESRC Business Voucher, via the University of Exeter’s Capacity Building Cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism (RES-187-24-0002). (Principal Investigator).
  25. 01/2010 – 09/2010: UK-China Fellowships for Excellence Grant; Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, UK.
  26. 10/2009 – 06/2011: Gaze strategies of laparoscopy surgeons: Observational learning, implicit knowledge and performance in demanding conditions. ESRC – RGC (Hong Kong) Bilateral: RES-000-22-3016
  27. 11/2008 – 10/2009: Appraisal of RFU youth development programme. (Rugby Football Development Ltd, Rugby Football Union (Principal Investigator).

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