School of Psychology

Perception and Action


How we act and understand the actions of others

The Perception and Action group studies the mechanisms that allow people to plan and control their actions and interpret and understand the actions of others.

Methods include fMRI, DTI TMS, tDCS, MEG, EEG and the use of robotic and virtual reality interfaces. Their research focuses on goal-directed hand action, but also covers unintentional motor acts, automatic mimicry, perception of the body and the space immediately surrounding the body. Investigations cover the lifespan from fours years of age to old age, encompassing congenital, developmental, degenerative and stroke-related brain abnormalities.

Recent projects and publications 

Recently funded projects include studies of neural plasticity in the motor system (BBSRC), of self-perception (ESRC) and of social cognition (ESRC funded).

Join us

Postgraduate opportunities



Nicholas Holmes
Assistant Professor

I study how the brain controls the hands while you are reaching and grasping simple, everyday objects like a table-tennis ball.

show/hide full profile...

Some kinds of hand movements can be performed extremely quickly, almost without thought, and often when the target of our movement suddenly and unexpectedly changes - these are the kinds of movements I study. A second strand of my research examines how the brain processes information coming from the hands, in particular simple vibrations on the fingertips. By stimulating the brain and peripheral nerves with an electromagnet, we can work out exactly where and when the brain is processing the vibrations.

Past Research

My PhD examined how the brain processes lights and touches felt on or near the hands. The brain seems to treat objects close to the body (say, within 30cm of your skin) quite differently to objects that are further away. This idea of 'personal space' leads to many predictions about how the brain might process visual and tactile stimuli on and near the skin. My PhD used behavioural and neuroimaging methods to test these predictions.

Stephen Jackson
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

A central theme of my research programme has been to understand the psychological and brain mechanisms through which sensory information is used to plan and control human action.

show/hide full profile...

During goal directed movements such as reaching out to pick up a glass of water, sensory signals must be transformed into appropriate motor commands. For visually guided movements, this involves translating visual information, signalling the spatial position of the target, into a motor plan which specifies the sequence of postural changes required to bring the hand to the target. An issue of fundamental importance is therefore to understand how visual information, specifying position, shape and surface texture of an object, is combined with somatosensory information signalling the current state of the body (e.g. limb position), and then used to generate the appropriate motor command signals.

My colleagues and I investigate the nature of the sensorimotor transformations which underlie goal-directed action in three ways. Firstly, we examine how unconstrained reaching movements are planned and executed by healthy adults. A key focus of these investigations is frequently to dissociate visual and somatosensory cues during the planning and execution of movement. Secondly, we examine how movement planning and control mechanisms are altered by brain damage or brain disease. Finally, we try to localise the brain mechanisms which underlie our ability to plan and control human action using a variety of non-invasive brain imaging techniques such as event-related electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Martin Schuermann
Associate Professor and Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience

My areas of research interest include crossmodal interaction and multisensory processing; neurobiological basis of social perception (human mirror-neuron system); and neurophysiology at systems level.

show/hide full profile...

Deborah Serrien
Associate Professor

My research focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of decision making and action across the lifespan from infancy to ageing.

show/hide full profile...

The main research themes areas are: hemispheric lateralisation of cognitive functions and human movement control (with emphasis on coordination tasks) under normal and disordered conditions. Use is made of behavioural as well as functional imaging techniques in order to better understand brain-behaviour relationships and mechanisms of neuroplasticity.

Domenica Veniero
Assistant Professor

My research interests focus on two main areas. The first is the role of brain oscillations in both long-range cortical communication and local brain activity, with a specific interest in top down control of visuo-spatial attention, visual processing and motor cortex excitability. The second is the effect of brain stimulation (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation - TMS) on cortical excitability and behavioural performance.

show/hide full profile...

Postdoctoral Scientists


Katherine Dyke
Katherine Dyke
Research Associate

In my work I use a range of non-invasive brain stimulation and imaging techniques to develop novel therapeutic interventions for neuro-developmental conditions. My work has a strong focus on Tourette Syndrome.

show/hide full profile...

PhD students

Show PhD students




School of Psychology

University Park
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

For all enquires please visit: