Welcome to the Cognition and Action Neuroimaging Lab (CAN Lab) at Indiana University, Bloomington!

CAN Lab is directed by Dr. Karin Harman James in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

About Us

Our Research

Our research program is devoted to studying the neural correlates of learning in humans. In general, how motor experience can influence visual recognition in both adults and children, and how the brain changes in response to specific experiences.


Research Topics

  • Action and perception interactions during learning
  • Development of object recognition
  • Reading acquisition

Lab Focus

CAN Lab's overall research questions center around the idea that learning about objects in the world is shaped and changed by the way humans interact with the world through their bodies. More specifically, self-generated actions create learning episodes that in turn shape cognition - what we do determines how we learn. We are investigating how action affects learning in many domains including: object recognition, language learning, reading, and mathematical understanding, using several behavioral methods for assessing learning outcomes and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging for investigating the brain mechanisms involved in different types of learning in both children and adults.

More about our research

The Cognition & Action Neuroimaging Lab focuses on how actions affect cognition.

Our interactions with the world rely on actions: therefore, our perceptions not only drive action, but are also driven by action. This interaction shapes and changes cognition. In the CAN Lab, we study how our actions with the environment, such as how we handle objects or learn words for objects and actions, affect our ideas and memory. Much of the research in the CAN Lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)as a tool for investigating neural processing during learning throughout the life span. We also study the effects of action on object knowledge, categorization and word learning during the early years of cognitive development.

Dr. Karin H. James

Cognition & Action Neuroimaging Laboratory's Research Program Director and Principle Investigator