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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Rob Roberts

Areas of expertise/research interests

  • cognitive development, skill acquisition
  • attention, memory and executive processes
  • eye-movement methodology and applications

Current research and projects

Roberts' interests are in cognitive and perceptual development, skill acquisition and cognitive neuroscience. His work examines the processes that underlie the organization of everyday behavior. Much of our activity seems effortless and easily determined, but this ease disguises an underlying complexity in the processes used to select between action alternatives. Occasional everyday action errors, such as driving the habitual route instead of the correct one, can make us aware, sometimes painfully, of alternatives we didn't know we were considering.

Roberts' research focuses on how real-time processes related to performing multiple actions interact and compete when determining what to do next. Small differences in timing can have important consequences, and understanding the contributions of working memory, inhibitory processes, and attention is critical in this regard. His laboratory employs eye-movement recording and analysis, as well as a variety of cognitive and perceptual research paradigms.


  • PhD, University of Virginia, 1984
  • MA, University of Virginia, 1981
  • BA, University of Denver, 1976

Selected Publications

  • Garza, J., Strom, M., Wright, C., Roberts, R. J., Jr., & Reed, C. L. (2013). Top-down influences mediate hand bias in spatial attention. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 75, 819-823.
  • Gervais W. M., Reed, C. L.,      Beall, P. M., Roberts, R. J., Jr. (2010). Implied body action      directs spatial attention. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics      ,72 (6), 1437-1443
  • Grubb, J.D., Bate, S, Garza, J, Roberts, R.J., Jr., & Reed, C.L. (2008). Walking reveals trunk-orientation bias for visual attention. Perception and Psychophysics, 70, 688-696.
  • Pennington, B.F., Snyder, K.A., Roberts, R.J., Jr. (2007). Developmental cognitive neuroscience: Origins, issues, & prospects. Developmental Review, 27, 428-441.
  • Reed, C.L., Garza, J.P., & Roberts, R.J., Jr. (2007). The influence of the body and its actions on spatial attention. In L. Paletta & E. Rome (Eds.), Attention in Cognitive Systems. Springer LNAI
  • Fennell, K., Sherry, L., Roberts, R. J., Jr., & Feary, M. (2006). Difficult access: The impact of recall steps on Flight Management System errors, Journal of Aviation Psychology. Vol. 16, No. 2, Pages 175-196.
  • Aman, C. J., Roberts, R. J., Jr., & Pennington, B. F. (1998). A neuropsychological examination of the underlying deficit in ADHD: The frontal lobe versus right parietal lobe theories, Developmental Psychology, 34, 956-969.
  • Roberts, R. J., Jr., & Pennington, B. F. (1996). An interactive framework for examining prefrontal cognitive processes. Developmental Neuropsychology, 12, 105-126
  • Roberts, R. J., Jr., Hager, L., & Heron, C. (1994). Prefrontal cognitive processes: Working memory and inhibition in the antisaccade task, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 123, 374-393.