Holy Cross Psychology Professor Helps Lead a $1.4 Million Grant

October 31st, 2013 by 
Richard Schmidt

Richard Schmidt, professor of psychology at the College of the Holy Cross, is one of two principal investigators on a project titled “Modeling the Behavioral Dynamics of Social Action and Coordination,” which was recently awarded a $1.4 million grant by the National Institutes of Health.

Schmidt and colleagues will be examining bodily movement in interactive social actions – including conversation and competitive sport tasks – to be able to understand the dynamical processes underlying them. The mathematical models developed in this five-year project are anticipated to have a transformative impact on numerous fields, including the study of human movement science, the breakdown of social coordination in autism and schizophrenia, and human-robot interactions.

The grant involves faculty researchers at other universities, including Michael Richardson (principal investigator) and Rachel Kallen from the University of Cincinnati, Elliot Saltzman from Boston University, and Steve Harrison from the University of Nebraska. Also, Patricia Kramer, professor of psychology at Holy Cross, and Bob Caron from Assumption College are participating as consultants.

For 12 years, Schmidt and Richardson have been collaborating on understanding the dynamics of interpersonal synchronization. The pair has earned a number of National Science Foundation grants, which contributed to building the foundation for the current more ambitious grant.

The study will develop dynamical models of four distinct social interaction tasks that require physical coordination: rhythmic targeting tasks, social object-moving tasks, conversation tasks, and competitive sports tasks. At Holy Cross, Schmidt and his two student research assistants, Kelly Clarke ’16 and Alison Franco ’15, both psychology majors, will be in charge of investigating the competitive sports tasks and conversation tasks.

“For the competitive sports tasks,” explains Schmidt, “We are studying a martial arts (Aikido) exercises in which an attacker’s overhead strike is disarmed by a defender. We are interested in mathematically modeling the synchronous nature of the defender’s movements and how the advantage of the attacker is taken through anticipating then leading their strike.”

Schmidt says for the conversation tasks, he is interested in modeling the coupling of body rhythms when people are speaking to one another. To investigate this, he will have subjects perform structured conversation tasks like telling jokes to one another or trying to reach a consensus on “one thing they would like to see changed on campus”.

Schmidt’s student researchers will be conducting experiments where they record people’s bodily movements. Then, the three will determine how particular dynamical properties of coordination change under different task, information and physical conditions. From this data, the faculty research team will develop dynamical models of the steady state behavioral modes observed as well as transitions to and from those modes.

Kelly Clarke ’16, who hopes to major in psychology and religious studies, is one of the Schmidt’s student researchers. Clarke, who is currently enrolled in his “Cognition and Memory” class, says “I have always wanted to help autistic and schizophrenic patients. If our research goes well, we could create a robot that would be therapeutic to those patients.”

Schmidt also has a personal curiosity about his grant research as well as a longtime practitioner of the martial art of Aikido. “I am most looking forward to understanding more about how a defender takes the advantage of an attacker in our Aikido task experiment,” he says.  “I have always wanted to understand this skill, which is often characterized spiritually in the martial arts, in scientific or mathematical terms. Not that this will in anyway enhance my Aikido skill! But it will satisfy my curiosity.”

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

| More
Tags

Comments are closed.

03/20/17 ‘SPEAK: Kathak and Tap Unite’ Receives Its East Coast Premiere at Holy Cross
03/16/17 First-Year Student Named Winner of Holy Cross Shark Tank Competition
03/15/17 No Major? No Problem: First-Year Students Learn It’s Never Too Early to Explore Business
03/13/17 Important Winter Weather Notification – March 14, 2017
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
‘I LOVE HC’ Fundraising Challenge a Record-Breaking Success

Watch Video >
See video
Holy Cross Faculty Member Recognized for Contributions to Catholic Higher Education

Watch Video >
See video
Time-Lapse Video: 13 Inches of Snow Blanket Campus

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ’63 Honored as Helmerich Distinguished Author, Reads Poetry on NPR

Watch Video >
See video
Video, Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross History Professor Featured in PBS Pearl Harbor Documentary

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Two-Time Heisman Candidate Gordie Lockbaum ’88 Featured by ESPN in ‘30 for 30 Short’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross Students are ‘More Engaged’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Take a Look at Campus Life After the Sun Sets

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Class of 2020 Receives A Holy Cross Welcome on Move-In Day

Watch Video >
More

SAM'S CLUB
7/12/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/14/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/13/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/12/2017

See More >


SAM'S CLUB
6/8/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/8/2017

See More >


Sexual Misconduct Policy Training
6/7/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519: Open to Campus Community OnlySee More >


Fullbridge Final Day Presentations
5/24/2017
Smith Laboratories 154
Smith Laboratories 154: Please join us on the last day of the Fullbridge Professional Edge Program where... See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Nonotuck Resource Associates
5/19/2017

See More >


Women's Forum Weekly Meeting
5/11/2017

See More >


MSO Advocate Program (Event canceled)
5/11/2017

See More >


Washington Semester Thesis Workshop
5/10/2017

See More >

More Holy Cross in the News

03/09/17

Holy Cross History Professor Comments on How President Trump’s Language Could Change Citizens’ Understanding of ‘Democracy’

Fortune

Cynthia Hooper, associate professor of history and director of Russian and Eastern European Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, is back in the news again with an op-ed...

03/09/17

Holy Cross Faculty Member Offers Insight on the Shifting Relationship Between China and the Vatican

The Conversation

Could the split between China and the Vatican be on the mend? Tom Landy, director of the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, and a...

03/02/17

Professor Emeritus Comments on the Aging Process in Men

The Wall Street Journal

Edward Thompson, professor emeritus of sociology at College of the Holy Cross, lent his knowledge on the aging process and the social worlds of older men to The Wall Street...