Andrea Mason, PhD
Credentials: Department of Kinesiology (School of Education)
Position title: Department Chair
Phone: (608) 262-9904
2000 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
PhD 2001, Simon Fraser University (Kinesiology)
MS 1997, University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada (Kinesiology)
BA Sc 1995, University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada (Systems Design Engineering)
Dr. Mason’s main research interest involves understanding how sensory information, such as visual and haptic (touch) feedback, is used to control simple, bimanual and, collaborative movements in both natural and virtual environments. In natural environments, when humans interact with objects, we expect to obtain an abundance of sensory information about the objects with which we interact. However, in computer generated environments sensory feedback is typically crude. She explores how the availability of this feedback (or lack thereof) affects the performance of reach to grasp movements in both natural and virtual environments. Learning more about what type of sensory information is needed and when that information is used can help us generate theories about sensori-motor function as well as form recommendations about how and when to display sensory information to users of virtual environments. This research has potential applications in “work-related” environments such as robotic surgery or virtual architectural walk-throughs.
Future work in Dr. Mason’s lab will investigate how the use of sensory information changes across the lifespan when people perform simple and complex tasks in virtual environments. Further, she plans to apply the results from her current studies in both natural and virtual environments to the development of an at-home rehabilitation system for survivors of stroke. This “virtual training system” would allow patients to continue rehabilitation in an exciting and stimulating computerized environment after traditional clinic rehabilitation has ceased and may help patients develop better strategies to manipulate objects in their environment following a stroke.