1st Annual Cognitive Archaeology Workshop, 26/05/17

Today we will all be hosting the 1st Annual (we hope!) Cognitive Archaeology Workshop at Leeds Beckett University.

Following on from Andrew’s recent paper the team is developing several grants and projects around the affordances of throwing in modern and prehistoric times. This workshop is an opportunity for us to all be in the same room for a change, bring each other up to speed on our interests and skills and work on the details of our new collaboration.

Attendees include Andrew, Sabrina and our students Agnes, Dan and Michael; archaeologists Larry Barham and Ian Stanistreet from the University of Liverpool and some of their students; sports scientist Tim Bennett from Carnegie School of Sports; and engineer Ray Holt from the University of Leeds. This is the team needed to do this work properly and it’s going to be a great day!

Data collection for new throwing experiment


10 participants, 30 hours over 4 days, 90Gb of data – DONE

Andrew has been holed up in the Biomechanics Lab in the Carnegie School of Sport all week with the team collecting data for a new throwing experiment. We are replicating part of Wilson et al (2016); throwers are throwing tennis balls to hit a target at 5m, 10m and 15m. This time, we are collecting enough data (20 hits per distance) to perform uncontrolled manifold analysis (UCM) on the full body motion capture data, turning our attention from the outcome of the throw to the production of the throw.

We are taking advantage of the fully synchronised, integrated set of data collection methods in the Biomechanics Lab and throwing the kitchen sink at this project. We are recording

  • full body kinematics from 70 markers at 250Hz
  • muscle activity from 16 muscles along the throwing arm and torso using wireless EMG markers
  • postural data from two force plates as people take their step to throw
  • high speed (250Hz) video of the throw
  • high speed (250Hz) video of the impact

Data analysis will happen over the summer with the paper planned for the end of 2017. Stay tuned!


Cross et al, 2016, How Moving Together Brings Us Together

Our recently graduated PhD student Liam Cross has just published his first paper from his PhD in a Research Topic, Dynamics of Joint-Action, Social Coordination and Multi-Agent Activity. Thanks to Mike Richardson for the invite to submit and our reviewers for their fair and useful feedback!

And congratulations Liam! One down, three to go 🙂

Cross, L., Wilson, A.D., & Golonka, S. (2016). How Moving Together Brings Us Together: When Coordinated Rhythmic Movement Affects Cooperation. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1983. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01983. Download (Open Access)

Andrew at EWEP14, July 6-9

Andrew is attending the 14th European Workshop on Ecological Psychology presenting his affordance research on prehistoric objects (see the full program). Hope to see some of you there!

Task dynamics and the affordances of prehistoric spheroids for throwing
Andrew Wilson, Qin Zhu, Ian Stanistreet, Larry Barham, & Geoffrey Bingham

Slides: The Affordances of Prehistoric Objects

Spheroids are ball-shaped stone objects found at African archaeological sites dating from 1.8 million years ago (Early Stone Age) to at least 200,000 years ago (Middle Stone Age), making them one of the longest-used technologies on record. Most hypotheses about their use presume they were held in one hand and used to shape or grind other materials. However, their size and spherical shape make them potentially useful as projectile weapons, a property that, uniquely, humans have been specialised to exploit for millions of years. Here we show (via simulations of projectile motions parameterised by recent affordance research on throwing) that 88% of the spheroids found at the Cave of Hearths site afford being thrown by a human so as to inflict worthwhile damage to an animal roughly the size of an impala over distances up to 25m. Most of the objects have weights that produce optimal levels of damage from throwing, rather than being as heavy as possible (as would suit other functions). Our results support the hypothesis that these objects were selected because they afford being thrown to inflict damage, and demonstrates how research on the task dynamics of affordances can inform and constrain our theories about prehistoric artifacts.

Andrew running workshop on ecological information 1/7/16

Andrew is travelling down to run a workshop demystifying ecological information at the Third International Conference on Interactivity, Language and Cognition. The workshop begins 9am on Friday 01/07/16 Room TK402. (I’ll only be down for the Friday session, but I’m looking forward to meeting you all!)

Slides: Ecological Information Workshop (Kingston June 2016) (note, I’m not going to deliver this as a lecture, it’s a little more hands on with some Matlab demos and discussion; these slides are just things to use to make it all a little more concrete)


Andrew’s new paper on affordances for throwing in press at JEPHPP

Andrew has a new paper just in press at JEP:HPP using simulations of projectile motion to quantify the affordances of a target to be hit by a long distance throw. This paper has been 5 years in the making, since the first data collection in 2010, and involved filming expert throwers in Leeds and Wyoming over two experiments with high speed cameras, measuring the release kinematics and then explaining how these varied with target location using the affordance simulations. This was a mammoth undertaking and Andrew is thrilled to finally see it in press!

Wilson, A. D., Weightman, A., Bingham, G. P., & Zhu, Q. (in press). Using task dynamics to quantify the affordances of throwing for long distance and accuracy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.  Download (pre-publication version), Supplemental Material