UW-Madison Department of Kinesiology - Andrea Mason

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Andrea Helen Mason

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Andrea Helen Mason

Associate Professor

2041 Gymnasium-Natatorium  binoculars icon
2000 Observatory Dr
Madison, WI 53706-1121
Office: 608/262-9904
Fax: 608/262-1656

Please visit our Lab Web Page

Personal Biography

I was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. I completed my Ph.D. in the Human Motor Systems Lab at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia under the direction of Dr. Christine MacKenzie. For my doctoral dissertation I studied kinematic and grip force patterns as people passed objects to and received objects from a partner. I have been a faculty member in the department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since January of 2002.



Research Interests

My research program focuses on studying the role of visual information for the performance and coordination of skilled goal-directed hand movements. I have established two specific lines of research related to this overarching focus. One line of research centers on the performance of bimanual reach-to-grasp movements. The other line of research focuses on how people perform goal-directed reach-to-grasp movements in computer-generated virtual environments across the lifespan.

Grants and Sponsorships

  • 2009-2014 - Amount: $497,668.00, "The Role Of Sensory Information For Performance In Virtual Environments Across The Lifespan," Awarded By: National Science Foundation, Grant Institution: University of Wisconsin - Madison, Sponsor Type: Federal, Andrea Mason, Principal.
    Abstract: The practical application of three dimensional virtual environment technology has made significant forward progress over the last decade. Technological advances in the computer industry allow for faster, more complex operations to be accomplished with much less hardware and decreased expense. The resultant effect is that applications once limited to experimental laboratories are reaching the design phase for mainstream deployment. However, obstacles continue to exist for the successful integration of three dimensional virtual environments into the daily function of the full spectrum of the human population. Currently, such systems do not completely succeed in simulating an environment in which human performance matches performance in a natural environment. We believe that one of the factors most limiting to the successful design of such systems is the understanding of the human psychological and sensorimotor systems and how these systems change with age. Vast amounts of literature demonstrate the changing nature of the human systems over time through the process of development and aging. It is well known that vision is the dominant source of sensory information, and that changes in sensorimotor processing and perception result in alterations in the use of vision for motor control at various stages of the lifespan. Human computer interaction is significantly affected by these changes. Research demonstrates these effects with use of standard computer interfaces, but there is very little information on human computer interaction across the lifespan in three dimensional virtual environments. It is our premise that to succeed in the creation of valid three dimensional virtual environment systems for the full array of potential users, age-specific sensorimotor requirements must be systematically determined. The intellectual merit of the research proposed here is to perpetuate the age-specific design paradigm by thorough investigation of sensory feedback parameters for motor control in a desktop three dimensional virtual environment. A multi-disciplinary approach, using methodologies from human motor control, biomechanics and neuroscience will be used to achieve this purpose. Specifically this research proposal will investigate the quantity, quality, and timing of visual feedback employed in simple tasks. Further inquiry into the interaction of task difficulty and sensory feedback will be undertaken. Finally, for each of the basic experimental investigations, the between subjects factor of age group and the within subjects factors of manipulated sensory feedback will be analyzed. Basic motor control measurement and predictive modeling techniques will be employed to understand how sensory feedback is used, to quantify the negative effects of lag, and to develop methods for improving the presentation of sensory information to users of various age groups. These developments will then be incorporated into the system, and experiments will be extended to more complex and functional tasks. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the role of graphic information for interaction in computer-generated environments across the lifespan, the broader impacts of this research will be to make evidence-based recommendations to designers of virtual environments regarding how to provide the most effective sensory feedback to users of all ages. The transformative nature of this grant relates to the impact that this research could have on the development of next-generation human-computer interfaces that effectively and efficiently integrate sensory information for users of all ages.
  • 6/30/2012 - Amount: $50,000.00, "Home-Based Virtual Reality System For Manual Rehabilitation After Stroke," Awarded By: University of Wisconsin System - Applied Research Grant, Grant Institution: University of Wisconsin - Madison, Sponsor Type: State, Andrea Mason, Co-Principal; Leigh Ann Mrotek, Principal.
    Abstract: The first of two technology objectives is to design a low-cost virtual reality system for stroke rehabilitation. The market price will be low enough that patients can purchase the system for home use; thus patients can continue to practice after traditional physical therapy sessions have ceased. We will utilize off-the-shelf technology and develop an effective software interface. The second objective of this project is the development of individualized practice tasks for rehabilitation of the hand after stroke. To maximize engagement, the tasks will be presented to the patients in the virtual environment in a game-like fashion. The virtual system will allow individualization; the tasks will be challenging, yet each patient can be successful. Using evidence-based algorithms the tasks will progressively and automatically become more difficult as the client improves performance. We will use a well-known taxonomy of task difficulty for generating tasks (including bimanual tasks) and test them iteratively on neurologically normal subjects and subjects in the chronic stage of stroke.


  • Mason, A., Bruyn, J., & Lazarus, J.C. (2013). Bimanual Coordination in Children: Manipulation of Object Distance. Experimental Brain Research. 231(2), 153-164.
  • Grabowski, P.J., & Mason, A. (2012). Vision for motor performance in virtual environments across the lifespan. In C. Sik Lanyi (Eds.), Virtual Environment / Book 1. InTech.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Bernardin, B.J., & Mason, A. (2011). Bimanual coordination affects motor task switching. Experimental Brain Research. 215(3), 257-267.
  • Mason, A., Bruyn, J.L., & Lazarus, J.C. (2010). Bimanual Coordination in Children: Manipulation of Object Size. Experimental Brain Research. 201(4), 797-807.
  • Mason, A., & Grabowski, P.J. (2010). Perturbation of object location during bimanual prehension: The role of visual feedback. Human Movement Science. 29, 502-517.
  • Mason, A., & Bruyn, J.L. (2009). Manual asymmetries in bimanual prehension tasks: Manipulation of object distance and object size. Human Movement Science. 28, 48-73.
  • Bruyn, J.L., & Mason, A. (2009). The allocation of visual attention during bimanual movements. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 62(7), 1328-1342.
  • Mason, A., & Bernardin, B.J. (2009). Vision for performance in virtual environments: The role of feedback timing. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. 25(8), 785-805.
  • Mason, A. (2008). Coordination and control of bimanual prehension: Effects of perturbing object location. Experimental Brain Research. 188(1), 125-139.
  • Mason, A. (2007). An experimental study on the role of graphical information about hand movements when interacting with objects in virtual reality environments. Interacting With Computers. 19, 370-381.
  • Mason, A., & Bryden, P.J. (2007). Coordination and concurrency in bimanual rotation tasks when moving away from and toward the body. Experimental Brain Research. 183(4), 541-556.
  • Mason, A. (2007). Performance of unimanual and bimanual multi-phased prehensile movements. Journal of Motor Behavior. 39(4), 291-305.
  • Mason, A. (2007). The Role of Early or Late Graphical Feedback about Oneself for Interaction in Virtual Environments. Proceedings of the Laval Virtual Reality International Conference. pp. 121-130.

Public Service

  • School of Education - Gear UP
    Dates of Membership: Oct. 2012 - Oct. 2012

  • School of Education - CALS
    Dates of Membership: Sep. 2012 - Sep. 2012

  • School of Education - Harambee
    Dates of Membership: Nov. 2011 - Nov. 2011


  • Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
    Scope of Organization: International, Member Since: May 1, 2009
  • UW Eye Research Institute (UW-ERI)
    Position Held: Member - Leadership Committee, Scope of Organization: UW Madison, Member Since: December 1, 2007
  • Association of Computing Machinery (ACM, SIGCHI)
    Scope of Organization: International, Membership Period: September 1, 2002 - July 31, 2011
  • North American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
    Position Held: Student Representative, Executive Board, Member Since: December 1, 1995
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