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Indiana University Bloomington

Bennett Bertenthal

Dr. Bennett Bertenthal

James H. Rudy Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences


bbertent [at]

office: PY 371 | (812)856-0958

lab: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
   PY A124


Perceptual, motor, and cognitive development, action understanding, social attention, spatial attention, real-world decision making

Educational Background

  • 1978-9 - Postdoctoral fellow, Brain Research Institute of UCLA Medical School
  • 1978 - Ph.D., University of Denver
  • 1976 - M.A., University of Denver
  • 1971 - B.A. Brandeis University

Recent Professional Experience

  • 2008-10 - Deputy Director, Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute, NCRR, NIH
  • 2007 - Professor, Program in Neuroscience, Indiana University
  • 2007 - Professor, Cognitive Science Program, Indiana University
  • 2007- James H. Rudy Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University
  • 2007-10 - Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University
  • 2004-7 - Senior Fellow, Computation Institute, University of Chicago
  • 2000-7 - Professor, Committee on Computational Neuroscience, University of Chicago
  • 1999-00 - External Judge, Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF), United Kingdom
  • 1999-07 - Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago
  • 1998-00 - Member, National Science and Technology Committee on the Future of Children
  • 1998-00 - Member, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Steering Committee “Reinventing the Social Sciences”
  • 1996-99 - Assistant Director, National Science Foundation

Areas of Study

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Science
  • Neuroscience

Research Topics

  • Perceptual, motor, and cognitive development
  • Action observation and execution
  • Perception of biological motion
  • Infants' social attention and cogniton

Research Summary:

My research focuses on the origins, development, and basic processing mechanisms involved in the perception and representation of actions by social and non-social stimuli. Recent neuroimaging, electrophysiological, and behavioral findings reveal that planning, observation, and imaging of actions share a common neural substrate. Our investigations incorporate behavioral, electrophysiological, and eye movement methods for studying the functional implications of this common substrate in infants, children and adults. Experimental tasks involving imitation, response priming, search for hidden objects, predictive tracking and reaching, gaze cueing and pointing, and the effects of authorship and expertise, are used for investigating the links between the observation and execution of actions. We are especially interested in the interplay between automatic and intentional processes in performing these tasks, and whether the perception of social stimuli requires knowledge of goals and intentions.

Representative Publications

    Bertenthal, B. I. (in press). Motor experience and action understanding:A developmental systems perspective. In T. Bidell & M. F. Mascolo (Eds.), Handbook of integrative psychological development: Essay in honor of Kurt W. Fischer. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

    Boyer, T. W., Harding, S. M., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2017). Infants' motor simulation of observed actions is modulated by the visibility of the actor's body. Cognition, 164, 107-115.

    Kelley, T., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2016). Attention and past behavior, not security knowledge, modulate users decisions to login to insecure websites. Information and Computer Security. 24, 164-176.

    Puce, A., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2015). The many faces of social attention: Behavioral and neural measures. New York: Springer.

    Bertenthal, B. I., & Boyer, T. W. (2015). The development of social attention in human infants. In A. Puce & B. I. Bertenthal (Eds.). The many faces of social attention: Behavioral and neural measures. New York: Springer.

    Bertenthal, B. I., Boyer, T. W., & Harding, S. (2014). When do infants begin to follow a point? Developmental Psychology, 50, 2036-2048.