The University of Arizona

Events & News

Cog Sci Brown Bag Seminar

DateFriday, February 5, 2010
Time12:00 pm
LocationGS 906
SpeakerSian Beilock
TitleAssociate Professor
AffiliationDepartment of Psychology - The University of Chicago

Expert Performance: From Action to Perception to Understanding

ABSTRACT: What makes an expert performer different from a novice? At first glance, one might suggest that the answer is simple. It is the quality of overt behavior that separates exceptional performers from those less skilled. We can all point to many ‘real world’ examples of such performance differences – just try comparing any professional athlete to his or her recreational counterpart. Although actual performance is one component that differentiates skilled individuals from novices, my research suggests that these overt performance distinctions are only part of the picture. In this talk I will present a series of studies exploring the implications motor experience carries for the representation and understanding of action – even in situations where there is no intention to act. Specifically, I will show that activities as diverse as language comprehension, memory judgments, and preferences for objects/events in one’s environment are modulated by one’s level of motor skill and one’s previous action experiences. Together, this work suggests that cognition is deeply rooted in action and that our experiences operating in particular environments determine the extent of these action-cognition links. Implications for learning in action-rich STEM domains (e.g., physics) will also be discussed.