APA Promotes Psychological Science on Capitol Hill

The APA Public Policy office organized an exhibit featuring psychological research for the March 19 Coalition for National Science Fudning (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibit and Reception. This event, organized to showcase the research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was designed to educate and inform members of Congress and their staffs about NSF and the importance of its support for basic research.

APA's exhibit featured the research of David Rosenbaum, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University, who is conducting NSF-supported research on how the human brain controls movement. Dr. Rosenbaum's theory of "learned stored postures" hypothesizes that the body uses a relatively small set of stored postures to, for instance, reach for objects. These stored postures are learned throughout a person's life. This is in contrast to conventional theory that suggests that the brain tests a huge number of possible movements to achieve a single task, such as reaching for an object.

The APA exhibit demonstrated a computer program that generates stick figures based on a mathematical model developed from this theory. Dr. Rosenbaum then compared actual human movements with those predicted by his model.

Also featured at the APA exhibit was research being done at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS) by Breck Baldwin, PhD. Dr. Baldwin's research on text summarization promises to help focus and reduce the overload of information now being produced and disseminated via the Internet and World Wide Web. His work in psycholinguistics demonstrates the unique nature of the research possible at the NSF-supported Institute.

Those visiting the APA exhibit included Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), who serves on the House Science Committee. Staff from the House Budget Committee and the House Science Committee also learned about this research supported by NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), as did staff from the personal offices of several representatives. In addition, NSF Director Neal Lane, PhD, and Deputy Director Anne Petersen, PhD, had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Rosenbaum and Dr. Baldwin about their research.

This event is one of the few organized for easy access by busy members of Congress and their staffs. Positive comments from attendees have reinforced the value of such events to inform Members about the basic research being funded with federal dollars.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Baldwin in the Public Policy Office.

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