A child's body is constantly changing and growing. Yet, she must learn to consistently identify this body as her own, and be able to control its movements. How is this achieved?
Hello, welcome to my website!
I am Dr. Dorothy Cowie, an Associate Professor in Psychology at Durham University. I investigate how children and adults use sensory information to ground the sense of bodily self, and to guide movement. On this website you will find information about my previous and current work.
In my DPhil at Oxford (2004-7), I examined how young children use visual feedback to control their walking. As a Postdoc at UCL IoN (2007-10), I examined the neural bases of visually-guided walking in Parkinson's disease. Then, at Goldsmiths, UoL (2010-13), I began my research into how children establish a more explicit sense of bodily self.
In 2013 I took up a permanent Lectureship at Durham University. My work there has been funded by two major ESRC grants: Development of Own Body Representation in Childhood (2017-21) and The plasticity of the Bodily Self: How Function and Age Shape the Acceptance of Virtual Bodies. (2022-25).
My current work focuses on plasticity in body representation. In an ESRC-funded grant, in collaboration with Profs Gillies & Pan at Goldsmiths, I use combined motion capture and virtual reality to present children with bodies which are different from their own. In a project with with Prof Tamar Makin, at Cambridge, I examine how children with limb differences learn to interact with their environments. Both projects aim to reveal the extent of plasticity in the developing sensorimotor system.
I believe in measuring behaviour rigorously, and as far as possible in naturalistic tasks. I believe that a developmental approach is useful, allowing us to see how the complex adult sensorimotor system is pieced together over many years.
My most recent publication is titled "The role of hand size in body representation: a developmental investigation ", published in Scientific Reports. This can be accessed here.
My Lab Group
As a principal investigator, I run a vibrant lab group: you can find our current members, including their interests and current projects, by following the button below.
Much of my work is done using motion capture technology and virtual reality in the Psychology department at Durham University. I am proud to have access to a number of child-friendly rooms, including a large movement and motion capture laboratory, and family waiting room. We also have access to a large database of volunteer families.