Hand in motion reveals mind in motion

Jonathan B. Freeman, Rick Dale, Thomas A. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Recently, researchers have measured hand movements en route to choices on a screen to understand the dynamics of a broad range of psychological processes. We review this growing body of research and explain how manual action exposes the real-time unfolding of underlying cognitive processing. We describe how simple hand motions may be used to continuously index participants' tentative commitments to different choice alternatives during the evolution of a behavioral response. As such, hand-tracking can provide unusually high-fidelity, real-time motor traces of the mind. These motor traces cast novel theoretical and empirical light onto a wide range of phenomena and serve as a potential bridge between far-reaching areas of psychological science from language, to high-level cognition and learning, to social cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 59
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 2011


  • Hand
  • Motor
  • Mouse-tracking
  • Real-time
  • Temporal dynamics
  • Time-course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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