Associate Member of the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training

The Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training (CEPET) brings together the collective wisdom, research and interdisciplinary enthusiasm of outstanding researchers at Macquarie University.

To say I’m proud to be an associate member is one of the greatest understatements of the year. If you’re interested to read more about CEPET, follow this link to find out about projects, people, conferences and other news. I particularly recommend having a look at the program for the conference on high-stakes performance held by the Centre at the end of last year just for the sheer variety of talks, insights and and areas of study. I’ve copied the abstract for my own contribution to this conference below.

I started a part time postdoctoral researcher position at Macquarie University in April 2018, working closely with Professor John Sutton in the Department of Cognitive Science. This work is funded by his Australian Research Council grant, “Cognitive Ecologies: a philosophical study of collaborative embodied skills.” If you would like to hear about upcoming workshops or talks related to this work, please send me a message or an email.

Cueing embodied action under pressure – Dr Kath Bicknell

Christensen et al (2013) argue that cognitive control is present in skilled action from novice to expert levels of performance, with strategic control increasing as task complexity increases. I ask how this capacity for strategic control may feature in developmental experiences. I do this by taking a body (mine) shaped by almost twenty years of cycling, infusing it with a phenomenological and auto-ethnographic method, and hanging it from a trapeze.


My analysis takes Ericsson and Kintsch’s (1995) psychological research on long-term working memory in experts and integrates it with theories of embodied cognition and skilled action. In doing so, I demonstrate that it’s not just experts who rely on the strategic use of cues to trigger complex whole-of-body actions in time-critical scenarios. These processes operate in training and development, in verbal and non-verbal modalities, at novice levels. Further, cues can be multimodal, overlapping and draw on highly individualised, interactive and context specific features of the performance environment. They allow for the development of a shared mental model between instructor and student, strategic execution of creative manoeuvres (even on the first attempt), sophisticated levels of emotion regulation and are set up in training scenarios with the aim of a more layered approach to cued control in performance and as task proficiency increases.

I also presented this research at the inaugural Australasian Society for Philosophy and Psychology conference in December, as part of a symposium on Movement, Expertise and Creativity with Ian Maxwell, Robin Dixon, Sarah Pini and Maya Gavish. It’s as much a pleasure to share this work with people from different academic disciplines as it is to sit, listen to and learn from other presentations at these events as well.

Photo by Kath Bicknell: Turns and berms at Trysil Bike Park in Norway. What a place.