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Karen Adolph

Karen Adolph


Karen E Adolph


Professor of Psychology and Neural Science

New York University


Email address


Personal Statement

I use motor skill acquisition as a model system to investigate learning and development. My research focuses on behavioral flexibility–how infants, children, and adults adapt to novel and challenging situations. Perceptual, motor, cognitive, and social skills must be sufficiently flexible to cope with the variable demands of everyday life. In my laboratory, we challenge people with novel predicaments, such as reaching, crawling, and walking through apertures, swinging along monkey bars, navigating narrow bridges, and descending cliffs, to observe how they adapt to potentially risky conditions. In some cases, caregivers provide varying types of social information. We use video tracking, motion tracking, head-mounted eye tracking, acoustic analyses, and instrumented carpets and apparatuses to observe the behavioral mechanisms that underlie adaptive responding. To better understand how people learn to cope with a changeable body in a variable world, our investigations cross traditionally disparate domains of psychology—motor, perceptual, cognitive, and social development.

Related Publications, by Category

Theory of Action

Perceptual Basis of Action

Development of Action

Communicative Actions

Locomotor Actions