Cognition, Action, & Perception (CAP)

Students in this area of emphasis receive interdisciplinary training in ecological and complex dynamical systems approaches to cognition, action, and perception with emphasis on the application of these approaches to a variety of real-world problems. 

Areas of research specialization include reading and decision-making, student motivation, engagement and emotions in the classroom context, cognitive development, human factors, visual, auditory, and haptic perception, motor behavior and control, and joint action. 

Areas of research application include design of interventions in educational contexts, robotics and human-robot interaction, disability and rehabilitation, assessment and enhancement of human motor performance. 


In addition to the general requirements, students take courses offered in the Psychology Department (e.g., Perception, Coordination and Control of Action, Dynamical Systems Modeling, Learning Systems, Human, Machines and their interactions, Non-linear time-series methods) and in other colleges according to the students’ specific interest. 

Most learning, however, happens outside the classroom. We are committed to providing a structured, hands-on, research focused learning environment that facilitates engagement and problem solving. Our extensive laboratory facilities include several motion capture systems, balance and posture assessment devices, virtual reality systems, eye tracking devices, mobile robots, robotic arms. The available technology coupled with modern analytical methods afford students the opportunity to push the understanding of the fundamental processes underlying the ability of individuals of all ages and skill levels to perceive, think, and act in a variety of circumstances. This understanding, in turn, supports theory-inspired, innovative solutions to challenges faced in a variety of applied fields.

Faculty have an impressive track record of placing Psychology Graduate Students in both academic and non-academic, industry jobs (e.g., P&G, Microsoft, Informatica, & Kinetic Vision). The growth of job opportunities outside of academia for those with expertise in data science and systems technology has motivated us to enhance our formal support for technical skills development. This includes the hire of a new faculty member who will focus primarily on this aspect of student training. Thus, while quantitative skills are desirable, these are not a requirement for success for those applicants who choose CAP as their area of emphasis.

Core Faculty

Core faculty members affiliated with this area of emphasis are: Drs. Tony ChemeroPeter ChiuSarah Cummins-SebreeTehran DavisJonh (Jay) HoldenHeidi KloosTamara LorenzKevin ShockleyPaula SilvaDieter Vanderelst. Please click on each faculty’s name to learn more about their work. If you are an interested applicant, feel free to contact them individually if you have questions about how your interests might align with their work. Current and recent research support has come from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Templeton Foundation, and DoD. 


The Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception (CAP), housed in the Psychology Department, is a focal point for research, training, and professional development in our program. Members of CAP include A&S Psychology faculty and research partners in Philosophy, Biology, Engineering, and Rehabilitation and Sports Sciences. Members of the CAP faculty are also active at various interdisciplinary hubs at the university level whose broad focus is to promote research driven by real-world challenges. These hubs include the Digital Futures (Human PerformanceBioAI, and Strange Tools labs), Industry 4.0/5.0, and the Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS). Through CAP, our students often have opportunities to join collaborative, problem-focused, research activities with faculty and fellow students from a variety of disciplines. If you would like to know more information about CAP, please contact CAP director Dr. Tamara Lorenz.