Hinkle Poster Session/Farewell

As the semester nears the end we would like to thank all of our Undergraduate Research Assistants for their hard work.  Below are pictures of several RA’s presenting research at the Hinkel Poster Session.



We would also like to congratulate our seniors who are graduating this semester. Best of luck Allie & Heng !



Stand Long & Prosper,




More good news from the SPoCC lab

This has been a busy semester  – congratulations to Tony Drew M.S. for receiving the graduate student teaching award from Miami!

Also congratulations to Max Teaford M.A. for passing his comprehensive exams!

And last but not least to one of our former undergraduate researchers – Amelia Kinsella Ph.D. for successfully completing her dissertation!

Quick addition – Congratulations to Max Teaford for winning a Capretta scholarship from the Psychology department

And – Justin Hassebrock on the birth of his son Ian Allen!!

So proud of all of you – Stand long and Prosper!!



Congrats to SPOCC researchers

Just a quick note to congradulate two of our graduate researchers:

Justin Hassebrock – ABD for passing his dissertation proposal defense!!!

– Justin’s project is examining how postural motion of multiple actors synchronizes in cooperative vs. co-operative virtuals tasks.

Mingliang Gong – Soon to be Ph.D.  for passing his dissertation defense!!!

-Mingliang’s dissertation project examined the ability of higher-order perceptual/social information to overcome visual crowding in peripheral vision.

Nice work gentlemen!!!!

Farewell Dr. Shen

For the past year we have had the pleasure of working with our visiting scholar Dr.  Xunbing Shen. Dr. Shen has returned to his position at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Nanchang, China. During his time in our lab, Dr. Shen designed a number of experiments aimed at looking at the relation between microexpressions and movement parameters, which are still ongoing.

Dr. Shen testing stimuli.

Developing Research Paradigms in Virtual Reality

With the acquisition of the HTC Vive virtual reality product, the SPOCC lab has begun to plan new ways in which human behavior can be studied. Building research paradigms that involve VIrtual Reality requires learning skills that are not often learned by psychologists. Computer programming and trouble shooting are becoming the most relevant tasks to complete in order to prepare our research projects. The current learning-goals for students who wish to do research using VR in the SPOCC lab are:

To code applications that access data collected from the VR set-up.

To program simple stimuli to be presented through the VR Head-Mounted-Display.

To sync presented stimuli with data recorded and calculated from a user’s own motion.

As the research questions become more complex here in the SPOCC lab, the skill sets of students who do that research become more multi-faceted. We are truly training resourceful researchers.


Anthony Drew, M.S.

Putting Heads Together: Collaboration at work

One of the great things about studying perception and action is that it allows you to engage in interesting research and address issues from many different fields.

Recently we were lucky enough to work on a collaborative project with Dr. Harvery Thurmer (Dept. of Music), and Dr. Bill Berg (Kinesiology and Health) along with former graduate students Rachelle Wolfe, M.M.  and Henry Cook, Ph.D.

The project involved a very timely question – how can we reduce repetitive strain injuries in violinists and violists (and really everyone)?

The study was unique in that it used assessment techniques from all three disciplines: performance training and evaluation using the Alexander technique (body mindfulness)   muscle activity evaluation using Electromyography  (EMG)                                                                 and kinematic (movement) evaluation using motion capture (magnetic motion tracking)

recording both the performance and kinematics of performance

screenshot of partial motion capture and data

It also gave our students a chance to learn how collaboration can work and learn how different types of researchers approach questions,

M. Howard ’18 and S. Laane ’17 outfit I. Held ’17 with sensors

The results of the initial study was published in June in Medical Problems of Performing Artists

Here is a Miami newsletter article about the project.

The best part of this project however, was being able to both learn and teach with colleagues and students!


Spring Update: PSY375

This year had a small but dedicated group of students in our lab course (PSY375).

The students this year were interested in discovering how different types of constraints influence performance on a task. For some in the group this was the first crack at the research process!!

To figure out how to do this we again did some brain storming, and organizing ideas…


and designed a study to examine this question using a perceptual adaptation procedure that included using motion capture and video games…

Set up showing prisms, motion capture and game play

Finally presenting our results at this years Undergraduate research forum!

A. Taylor, L. Bryne, J. Noble, & N. Schwabe

As always proud of the work that our students do!!


Studying Partial Deafferentation

An upcoming project will examine the viability of blood pressure cuffs as an experimental tool for altering sensory information. If found to be effective this will allow us to experimentally induce symptoms of different disorders (such as Anorexia Nervosa) on healthy participants which will help us to better understand the mechanisms by which different disorders work.

-Max Teaford

Studying workflow in a virtual task

What is the best way to approach a complex task?

How might this approach be modified based on changing constraints?

These are questions that Alex Feltz B.A., Sarah Laane B.A., & Valencia Brown, B.A. sought to answer using a virtual task last semester.

They noticed that employees are often asked to follow a certain set of work instructions (procedures) that specify how they are to conduct their job. In many cases they are also given time constraints to ensure that the necessary amount of a given product is produced. Working under these constraints can be stressful, particularly when the constraints are greater than what can be done safely and accurately. Their research was conducted to determine how time constraints could affect the performance of complex tasks.

They tested this by looking at how participants performed in a virtual building task when given a specific set of instructions and varying time constraints.

Set up for the study. Participant's were tasked with building virtual houses

Set up for the study. Participant’s were tasked with building virtual houses

They found that placing unrealistic time constraints on the task resulted in participants deviating from the instructions by either skipping (combining) or omitting (forgetting) steps. However, performance did improve over trials and analysis of their physical movement suggests that participants were getting better even if they couldn’t complete the task in the manner specified.

So time constraints can alter the way in which a task is completed, but may not always be detrimental.