Will the science of mental life and behavior finally embrace motor control?
Psychology (the science of mental life and behavior) has curiously ignored motor control (the study of how physical behavior is controlled). An article about this neglect, called the “Cinderella of Psychology” (American Psychologist, 2005) addressed the question of why this neglect occurred. In the present talk, I will touch on some of the themes of that article and ask whether psychology has, in the meantime, witnessed, or is likely to witness, a resurgence of interest in motor control. There are positive signs, among them the growth of interest in embodiment (though even here, the focus has been more on perception than on action). My main basis for believing that psychology will finally embrace motor control is that the study of motor control provides a special window into the mind, and reliance on the tools of psychology provides a special window into the analysis of the control of physical movement and stability. I will illustrate these principles by describing some research that my colleagues and I have done, focusing on two main topics: (1) The past meets the future; and (2) Apples and oranges.