Areas of Study

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Science
  • Neuroscience

Research Topics

  • Infants’ social attention and cognition
  • Development of self-regulation
  • Action observation and execution
  • Real-world decision making

My research focuses on the origins, development, and basic processing mechanisms involved in social attention, self-regulation, social interaction, and decision making.

Current projects include the temporal dynamics of joint attention, the development of infants’ physiological and behavioral emotion regulation, the origins and early development of predictive processing during social interactions, the functional implications of neural and behavioral synchrony, and real-world decision making involving photo sharing, secure vs. insecure websites, and face GANS (generative adversarial networks).

Major Areas of Research: Perception and action, social attention, action understanding, automatic imitation/mimicry, emotion regulation, eye tracking, real-world attention and decision making, science policy.

He is the author of over 150 publications on the development of perception and action, visual attention, multimodal communication, automatic vs. controlled decisions, cybersecurity, and science policy. Most of his current work focuses on the development of social attention and action understanding in infants, children, and adults. For the past few years, he has also been studying real-time decision making in risky digital environments.

Dr. Bertenthal has lectured extensively on the social and behavioral sciences and science policy in the U.S. and abroad, and has served on multiple national advisory committees including the National Science and Technology Council subcommittees concerned with basic science and fundamental research on children.


Social Attention

  • Infants' responsiveness to deictic cues
  • Adults' responsiveness to deictic cues
  • Joint attention and eye tracking

Action Understanding

  • Infants' understanding and anticipation of others' goals
  • Infants' simulation of others' actions
  • Infants' differential understanding of human and mechanical actions

Mimicry and Imitation

  • Maternal mimicry of infants' actions and their self-regulation
  • Mimicry of infants' actions modulates their attention and understanding
  • Adults' automatic imitation of gestures

Continuity and Consistency of Social-Cognitive Development

  • Relation between infants' social cognition and social behavior in toddlers and preschool age children
  • Relation between infants' and toddlers' self-regulation

Real-World Decision Making in Risky Digital Environments

  • Contributions of prior knowledge and situational awareness to predicting threat detection
  • Real-time decision-making measured from mouse movements

For the past 40 years, my research has focused on the perception and understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of social and non-social actions.

Much of this research is concerned with identifying the mechanisms necessary for prospective control and how this control develops as the individual gains more experience with selecting and controlling the relevant response. My laboratory is well prepared to address these problems for a number of reasons including: (1) significant research experience studying the development of perception and action coupling (e.g., visual control of posture, reaching, locomotion, etc.), as well as the early representation of objects and their properties; (2) familiarity and experience with a multidisciplinary set of research methods and techniques, such as eye tracking, biomechanics, signal processing, psychophysics, electrophysiology, and chronometric approaches; (3) experience with linear and nonlinear modeling approaches to complex sets of data; and (4) a large network of collaborators who support and complement the primary mission of my laboratory.

Subject Area

  • Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Bertenthal is the author of over 70 publications on perceptual and cognitive development, developmental methodology, visual processing of motion information, and nonlinear modeling of posture and gait.

Past Affiliations

Office of Research, University of California, Santa Barbara (past)

James H. Rudy Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington

Professor, Department of Psychology, Division of the Social Sciences, University of Chicago (past)

Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience, Biological Sciences Division, University of Chicago (past)

Professor, Graduate Program in Computational Neuroscience, Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology, and Human Behavior, Department of Neurobiology, Biological Sciences Division, University of Chicago (past)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in Neuroscience, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington

Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington

Neuroscience, Social Sciences, Cognitive Science, Psychology
PhD, University of Denver, Developmental Psychology, 1978
MA, University of Denver, Developmental Psychology, 1976
BA, Brandeis University, Psychology, 1971