Psychology Logo School of Psychology
University of Nottingham


Stephen Jackson BA, Ph.D.




Research Overview

A central theme of my research programme has been to understand the psychological and brain mechanisms through which sensory information is used to plan and control human action. During goal directed movements such as reaching out to pick up a glass of water, sensory signals must be transformed into appropriate motor commands. For visually guided movements, this involves translating visual information, signalling the spatial position of the target, into a motor plan which specifies the sequence of postural changes required to bring the hand to the target. An issue of fundamental importance is therefore to understand how visual information, specifying position, shape and surface texture of an object, is combined with somatosensory information signalling the current state of the body (e.g. limb position), and then used to generate the appropriate motor command signals.

My colleagues and I investigate the nature of the sensorimotor transformations which underlie goal-directed action in three ways. Firstly, we examine how unconstrained reaching movements are planned and executed by healthy adults. A key focus of these investigations is frequently to dissociate visual and somatosensory cues during the planning and execution of movement. Secondly, we examine how movement planning and control mechanisms are altered by brain damage or brain disease. Finally, we try to localise the brain mechanisms which underlie our ability to plan and control human action using a variety of non-invasive brain imaging techniques such as event-related electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Young People with Tourette's Syndrome have been given new hope as a result of pioneering work by scientists in the East Midlands - BBC Report


Bimanual Movements

Jackson GM, Jackson SR, Hindle JV. (2000). The control of bimanual reach-to-grasp movements in hemiparkinsonian patients. Exp. Brain Res 132(3):390-398

Jackson GM, Jackson SR, Husain M, et al. (2000). The coordination of bimanual prehension movements in a centrally deafferented patient. Brain 123:(3):380-393. PDF

Jackson GM, Jackson SR, Newport R, et al. (2002). Co-ordination of bimanual movements in a centrally deafferented patient executing open-loop reach-to-grasp movements. Aca Psychol. 110(2-3):231-246


Harvey M, Jackson SR, Newport R, et al. (2001). Is grasping impaired in hemispatial neglect? Behav Neurol 13 (1-2):17-28

Jackson SR (2001). Motor aspects of hemispatial neglect. Behav Neurol 13 (1-2) 1-2.

Jackson SR, Newport R, Husain, M, et al. (2000). Reaching movements may reveal the distorted topography of spatial representations after neglect. Neuropsychologia 38 (4):500-507. PDF

Ward R, Jackson SR. (2002). Visual attention in blindsight:Sensitivity in the blind field increased by targets in the sighted field. Neuroreport 13(3): 301-304


Jackson, GM, Swainson, R, Mullin, A, Cunnington, R & Jackson, SR. (2004). ERP correlates of a receptive language-switching task. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 57(2): 223-240 PDF

Swainson, R, Cunnington, R, Jackson, GM, et al. (2003) Cognitive Control mechanisms revealed by ERP and fMRI:Evidence from repeated task switching.J Cognitive Neurosci 14(6): 785-799

Plodowski A, Swainson R, Jackson GM, et al. (2003) Mental Representation of number in different numerical forms. Curr Biol 13(23): 2045-2050.

Sensory-Motor Processes

Harvey M, Olk B, Gilchrist ID, et al. (2002) Are size distortion effects in hemispatial neglect reflected in grasping and/or eye-movement impairments? Perception 31: 7-7

Husain M, Jackson SR. (2001). Vision: Visual space is not what it appears to be. Curr Biol 11(18): 753-755.

Jackson SR (2001). 'Action binding': dynamic interactions between vision and touch. Trends Cogn Sci 5(12): 505-506. PDF

Jackson SR, Newport R. (2001). Prism adaptation produces neglect-like patterns of hand path curvature in healthy adults. Neuropsychologia 39(8): 810-814 PDF

Jackson SR, Newport R, Mort D, et al. (2005). Where the eye looks, the hand follows: Limb-dependent magnetic misreaching in optic ataxia. Curr Biol 15(1): 42-46. PDF

Jackson SR, Newport R, Osborne F, et al. (2005). Saccade-contingent spatial and temporal errors are absent for saccadic head movements. Cortex 41(2): 205-212. PDF

Jackson SR, Newport R, Shaw A. (2002). Monocular vision leads to a dissociation between grip force and grip aperture scaling during reach-to-grasp movements.Curr Biol 12(3): 237-240 PDF

Jackson SR, Pears S. (2003). A cognitive neuroscience perspective upon multisensory integration. Abstr Pap Am Chem S 226: 161 -1.

Jackson SR, Shaw A. (2000). The Ponzo illusion affects grip-force but not grip aperture scaling during prehension movements. J Exp Psychol Human 26(1): 418-423

Newport R, Hindle JV, Jackson SR. (2001). Links between vision and somatosensation: Vision can improve the felt position of the unseen hand. Curr Biol 11(12): 975-980. PDF

Newport R, Pears S, Jackson SR. (2004) Evidence from optic ataxia does not support a distinction between planning and control mechanisms in human motor control. Behav Brain Sci 27(1): 45.

Newport R, Rabb B, Jackson SR. (2002). Noninformative vision improves haptic spatial perception. Curr Biol 12(19): 1661-1664 PDF

Pears S, Jackson SR. (2004). Cognitive neuroscience: Vision and touch are constant companions. Curr Biol 14(9): 349-350 PDF

Smith, D, Jackson, SR, Rorden C. (2004). Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the left human frontal eye fields eliminates the cost of invalid endogenous cues. Perception 33: 4-4.

Smith, DT, Rorden, C, Jackson SR. (2004). Exogenous orienting of attention depends upon the ability to execute eye movements. Curr Biol 14(9): 792-795 PDF

Additional Reading

For C8CMOT course please click here for the additional reading. Please note that these are limited to University of Nottingham network.UON Access


1994 – date British Neuroscience Association (BNA).

1994 – date Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC)

1995 – date British Neuropsychology Society (BNS).

1995 – date Experimental Psychology Society (EPS)

1999 – date European Brain and Behaviour Society (EBBS)

I am currently working jointly with Brain and Cognitive Engineering group at the Korea University.



2003-date S. Ryan Ph.D. School of Psychology, Nottingham.

2003-date C. Jackson Ph.D. School of Psychology, Nottingham.

2004-date K. McKenzie Ph.D. School of Psychology, Nottingham.

2004-date A. Pellijeff Ph.D. School of Psychology, Nottingham.

2004-date C. Ojango Ph.D. School of Psychology, Nottingham.


Further Information

For further information on my work, do not hesitate to contact me.

List of PhD or MSc projects that Stephen Jackson is currently willing to supervise:
1. Neural basis for unwanted thoughts and actions
Understanding the nature of the brain mechanisms that allow us to regulate our behaviour is a fundamental problem for neuroscience and is of considerable clinical importance in understanding and treating the consequences of mental illness. This is because behavioural dysregulation and/or disorders of cognitive control are strongly associated with a number of common mental illnesses including: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]; Tourette syndrome [TS]; and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD]. In this project we will use magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the functional anatomy of unwanted actions.

2. Neural circuits involved in the suppression of tics in Tourette syndrome
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a developmental neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by the presence of chronic vocal and motor tics. Tics are involuntary, repetitive, stereotyped behaviors that occur with a limited duration. The neurological basis of TS is unclear at this time however it is agreed that the basal ganglia, including circuits that link the striatum to the frontal lobes, are dysfunctional. It has been suggested that individuals who learn to successfully control their tics do so by recruiting an enlarged or enhanced network of cortical areas that are involved in the cognitive control f behaviour. In this project we will use neuroimaging techniques (e.g., functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation) to investigate and quantify this hypothesis.

3. Brain plasticity and functional re-organisation in the ageing brain
Both normal ageing and age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) are associated with specific forms of cognitive deficit: most particularly impairment in executive function and the cognitive control of behaviour. These cognitive impairments have been linked to neurobiological changes affecting the operation of the cortico-striatal circuits of the human brain. Recent studies have shown that the neurobiological changes and age-related cognitive decline associated with normal ageing can be significantly slowed, or even reversed, by regular cardiovascular [CV] exercise, and studies using a rat model have demonstrated that a cardiovascular exercise intervention can attenuate dopamine depletion in the striatum of hemi-parkinsonian rats, indicating that exercise may be neuroprotective. The aim of this project would be to investigate this hypothesis using behavioural measures of performance and neuroimaging techniques (e.g., functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation).

4. Neural representation of movement and updating of the ‘body-schema’
Damage to the posterior parietal cortex can lead to a disorder of visually guided reaching movements known as optic ataxia (AO). We have previously suggested that the brain area most often associated with optic ataxia – the medial aspect of the posterior parietal cortex -- is important for maintaining a dynamic, up-to-date, representation of the postural configuration of the body [i.e., the body ‘schema’]. We will investigate this hypothesis by studying reaching movements to visually defined and posturally defined targets in neurologically healthy individuals and patients with optic ataxia. This project will make use of kinematic analyses of reaching movements and fMRI. My lab is equipped with 2-joint robot arm for measuring movement and also an MRI-compatible 2-joint robot for measuring movements in the MR scanner.

5. Mechanisms of functional re-organisation of sensorimotor function after stroke
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the UK and one half of those surviving a stroke will be significantly disabled and require help with activities of daily living, either at home or in an institution. This project will investigate neural plasticity and functional re-organisation of sensorimotor function following a stroke. Current projects include the use of robot-based therapy to rehabilitate upper-limb function after stroke, and, the use of somatosensory stimulation to promote recovery of swallowing post stroke. The project will utilise one or more of the following techniques: magnetic resonance imaging; transcranial magnetic stimulation; motor learning/movement analysis using a 2-joint robot arm.

6. Neural basis for the modulatory effects of motor intention on perception
Psychophysical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that visual stimuli presented close to the onset of a saccadic eye movement are mislocalised spatially and temporally. Similarly, psychophysical and electrophysiological studies have demonstrated that the intention to execute a limb movement leads to reduced tactile sensitivity on the limb that is about to be moved. This project will use magnetic resonance imaging and/or transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques to investigate how motor intention influences tactile perception.