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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 observation and execution; Perception of biological motion; Implicit and explicit knowledge

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 - 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

    Boyer, T. W., Longo, M. R., & Bertenthal, B. I. (in press). Is automatic imitation a specialized form of stimulus response compatibility? Dissociating imitative and spatial compatibility. Acta Psychologica.

    Rohlfing, K., Longo, M. R., & Bertenthal, B. I. (in press). Dynamic pointing triggers shifts of visual attention in young infants. Developmental Science.

    Bertenthal, B. I., Gredebäck, G., & Boyer, T. W. (in press). Infants' early knowledge of continuous and discontinuous spatiotemporal events. Child Development.

    Boyer, T. W., Pan, S. & Bertenthal, B. I. (2011). Infants' understanding of actions performed by mechanical devices. Cognition, 121, 1-11.

    Bertenthal, B. I., & Boyer, T.W. (2011). Brief familiarization primes covert imitation in 9-month-old infants. In L. Carlson, C. Hlscher, & T. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. ). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Boyer, T.W., Smith, T.G., Yu, C. & Bertenthal, B.I. (2011). Visual attention and change detection. In L. Carlson, C. Hölscher, & T. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. ). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society

    Bertenthal, B. I. (2009). Perception and action. In J. B. Benson & M. M. Haith (Eds.), Language, Memory, and Cognition in Infancy and Early Childhood. San Diego: Elsevier/Academic Press.

    Longo, M. R. & Bertenthal, B. I. (2009). Attention modulates the specificity of automatic imitation to human actors. Experimental Brain Research, 192, 739-744.

    Boyer, T. W., Scheutz, M., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2009). Dissociating ideomotor and spatial compatibility: Empirical evidence and connectionist models. In N. Taatgen, H. van Rijn, & L. Schomaker (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society.

    McNeill, D., Duncan, S., Cole, J., Gallagher, S., & Bertenthal, B. (2008). Growth points from the very beginning. Interaction Studies, 9, 117-132.

    Longo, M. R., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2008). Flexibility and development of mirroring systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 31.

    Bertenthal, B. I., & Longo, M. R. (2008). Motor knowledge and action understanding: A developmental perspective. In R. Klatzky, M. Behrmann, & B. MacWhinney (Eds.), Embodiment, ego-space, and action: 34th Carnegie symposium on cognition (pp. 323- 368). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Beilock, S. L., Bertenthal, B. I., Hoerger, M., & Carr, T. H. (2008). When does haste make waste: Speed-accuracy tradeoff, skill level, and the tools of the trade. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14, 340-352.

    Longo, M. R., Kosobud, A., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2008). Automatic imitation of biomechanically impossible actions: Effects of priming movements vs. goals. Journal of Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34, 489-501.

    Bertenthal, B.I. (2007). Dynamical systems: It's about time! In S. Boker (Ed.), Data analytic techniques for dynamical systems. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Bertenthal, B. I., Longo, M. R., & Kenny, S. (2007). Phenomenal permanence and the development of predictive tracking. Child Development, 78, 350-363.

    Bertenthal, B. I. (2007). Is there evidence of a mirror system from birth? Developmental Science, 10, 526-529.

    Longo, M. R., & Bertenthal, B. I. (2006). Common coding of observation and execution of action in 9-month-old infants. Infancy, 10, 43-60.

    Bertenthal, B.I., Longo, M. R., & Kosobud, A. (2006). Imitative response tendencies following observation of meaningless actions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 32, 210-225.