Scientist Profiles M-R

Jonathan Marotta, BScH, MSc, PhD

Currently recruiting Graduate Students - Click here to learn more

The Perception and Action Lab offers students a unique opportunity for training in neuropsychological approaches, visuomotor control, visual psychophysics, fMRI, and high-level object vision. As a research mentor, Dr. Marotta strives to help his students see that by continuing to develop their research skills and remain flexible in their approach, they will always be able to tackle the next question, no matter what form it may take. An advisor must help their trainees find the career that is the best fit for them, be it inside or outside academia. Dr. Marotta’s trainees develop in-demand skills, as is evident by their success in obtaining employment.

Currently recruiting Postdoctoral fellows - Click here to learn more

Dr. Marotta is always looking for exceptional, motivated students at all levels. Students interested in pursuing Honour’s research in the lab are encouraged to visit. Potential Master’s and Ph.D. students and Post-doctoral Fellows are encouraged to contact Dr. Marotta for information on facilities, funding, on-going projects, and research exchanges. By the time Postdoctoral Fellows leave the Perception and Action Lab, they will have the skills and research experience necessary to establish their own cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience laboratories fostering sophisticated, multidisciplinary approaches to investigations of visual perception and visuomotor control.

Appointments & Affiliations

Department of Psychology
Faculty of Arts
University of Manitoba

Research Information

Vision, Motor Control, Perception and Action, Aging

Humans reach out and grasp objects with amazing accuracy. Whether we are picking up a cup of coffee, driving a car, or working on a computer, almost every action we make is guided and checked by vision. Where we look is not random, but rather an active process by the visual system to seek out information relevant to the task at hand.

Expanded Summary
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As you read this web page, you probably have a cup of coffee or bottle of water nearby. If you need either, it is a simple matter to look where you remember leaving it, reach out, and accurately pick it up. But, is it really that simple? Think for a moment about how complicated that process actually is, and how remarkably well you do it. When you reach out to pick up the cup of coffee, not only do you direct your arm towards the cup, but the posture of your hand and fingers anticipates the size, shape, and orientation of the cup well before contact is made. When contact is made, the position of the fingers on the object are not random, but rather fall on task-specific locations. One of the things that make these processes possible is your keen sense of vision.

Historically, investigations of eye-hand coordination have involved reaching out to pick up simple, stationary blocks. While this research has moved us towards a better understanding of how the systems controlling perception and action interact, it does not properly capture the complex dynamics of the perceptual and motor interactions seen in our everyday life. Modern applications like gaming and robotics are increasingly relying on natural movements in complex visual scenes. Dr. Marotta’s research is aimed at providing an understanding of how the brain solves these complex scenarios by including more of our lived experiences into investigations of perception and action – creating new ecologically focused pathways to research.

The Perception and Action Lab uses specialized motion tracking systems that follow where the eyes are looking while simultaneously recording the path of the arm, hand and fingers during a reach. By developing experimental paradigms that utilize complex objects, moving targets, cluttered environments and memory guided grasping, Dr. Marotta and his lab are able to investigate a wider range of factors – including not just vision but proprioception (the perception of the movements and position of the body), and not just grip formation but object lifting. This fundamental research will provide a clearer understanding of what information we use, and when we use it, to select where we look at and grasp an object – providing us with critical insight into how the brain is responsible for this important skill.

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6635-4694

Research Staff and Trainees


Contact Information

P310 Duff Roblin
190 Dysart Rd. Department of Psychology, University of Mannitoba

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