Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts
Social Motor Coordination Research
My research investigates how people coordinate their bodily movements when they interact socially. The objective of the research is to be able to understand the structure of the interpersonal bodily coordination in different kinds of social interactions such as collision avoidance (like when you are walking down the hall and you and the person coming the other way have to avoid one another), competitive sports (such as in martial arts) and in conversations (such as when you are telling a joke or making a decision about something with someone). Past research has found that movements in all these kinds of social interaction are unintentionally synchronized and dance-like. That is, there is an implicit 'dance' that underlies our interactions with others although we are not aware of it. The overall goal of my research is to understand the dynamical and perceptual constraints that underlie this social motor coordination. Additionally my research investigates how this social motor 'dance' becomes dis-synchronous in autism and schizophrenia in order to help understand the social interaction problems of these populations and to create effective therapies to facilitate remediation. Another goal of the research is to capture social motor 'dances' in mathematical models in order to program artificial agents such as robots and avatars so that they can interact with humans more naturally.
Center for Ecological Study of Perception and Action
Movement to Health Lab, University of Montpellier
Perceptual Motor Dynamics Laboratory, Cincinnati
Zenshinkan Aikido Dojo, Worcester, MA