Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory (APAL)

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The Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory at the University of Minnesota is part of the School of Kinesiology, in the College of Education and Human Development. The APAL is the successor to the Human Factors Research Laboratory.

The perceptual guidance of action, and the use of motor activity to obtain perceptual information are two of the central aspects of animate behavior. Even one-celled organisms perceive to move, and move to perceive. Research on relations between perception and action is relatively recent in the behavioral sciences, and APAL is a leader in quantitative research in this area. Our focus is on the integration of perception and action in the context of meaningful behaviors. Relations between properties of the environment and properties of the organism have consequences for behavior. These relations, known as affordances, are directly relevant to the success of our interactions with the environment and, accordingly, perception and action should be concentrated on learning about affordances and on the use of affordances to achieve behavioral goals. Our focus on affordance perception-action is inspired by the Ecological Approach to Perception and Action.

In the APAL, our study of relations between affordances and perception-action straddles the boundary between basic and applied science. That is, our research on “basic” issues commonly has implications for the design and use of human-machine systems, and our research on “applied” issues commonly has implications for general theories of affordance perception-action. Our applied work relates primarily to the Human Factors of perception and action in virtual environments, and is inspired by the Ecological Approach to Human-Machine Systems.

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