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Laura E. Thomas, Ph.D.

Laura E. Thomas, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience

North Dakota State University

Office: 134E4 Minard Hall


Research Interests

My research investigates the ways in which actions influence perception and cognition. The actions we perform--and our potential to interact with the environment--shape our thought processes, reflecting perception and cognition's sensitivity to behavioral contexts. I incorporate approaches from vision science and grounded cognition to study the ways in which action, action affordances, and social interactions affect perception and key components of cognition such as problem solving, memory, and attention. By examining when and why actions influence processing, my goal is to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms and representations that tie perception, cognition, and action together.

Current work in the Action and Cognition Lab is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Action and Cognition Lab


Ph.D., 2008, Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

B.A., 2002, Psychology (summa cum laude), Washington University in St. Louis

Academic Appointments

2018-Present, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University

2011-2018, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University

2008-2011, Postdoctoral Fellow, Perception, Attention, and Control Lab, Vanderbilt University

Courses Taught

PSYC 350: Research Methods I

PSYC 464/664: Attention and Thinking

PSYC 764: Advanced Topics in Attention

Selected Publications

McManus, R., & Thomas, L. E. (2018). Immobilization does not disrupt near-hand attentional biases. Consciousness and Cognition, 64, 50-60.

Thomas, L. E. (2017). Action experience drives visual processing biases near the hands. Psychological Science, 28, 124-131.

Stettler, B., & Thomas, L. E. (2017). Visual processing is biased in peripersonal foot space. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 79, 298-305.

Balas, B., & Thomas, L. E. (2015). Competition makes observers remember faces as more aggressive. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(4), 711-716.

Thomas, L. E. (2015). Grasp posture alters visual processing biases near the hands. Psychological Science, 26(5), 625-632.

Thomas, L. E., & Pemstein, D. (2015). What you see is what you get: Webcam placement influences perception and social coordination. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:306.

Thomas, L. E., Davoli, C. C., & Brockmole, J. R.  (2014).  Competitive interaction leads to perceptual distancing between actors.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40, 2112-2116.

Kuylen, C., Balas, B., & Thomas, L. E.  (2014). My shadow, myself: Cast-body shadows are embodied.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 676-681.

Sun, H. M., & Thomas, L. E.  (2013).  Biased attention near another's hand following joint action.  Frontiers in Psychology, 4:443.

Thomas, L. E.  (2013).  Grasp posture modulates attentional prioritization of space near the hands.  Frontiers in Psychology, 4:312.

Thomas, L. E.  (2013).  Spatial working memory is necessary for actions to guide thought.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39, 1974-1981.

Thomas, L. E., Davoli, C. C., & Brockmole, J. R.  (2013).  Interacting with objects compresses environmental representations in spatial memory.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 101-107.

Thomas, L. E., & Seiffert, A. E.  (2010).  Self-motion impairs multiple-object tracking.  Cognition, 177, 80-86.

Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A.  (2009).  Covert shifts of attention function as an implicit aid to insight.  Cognition, 111, 168-174.

Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A.  (2007).  Moving eyes and moving thought: On the spatial compatibility between eye movements and cognition.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 663-668.

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