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Professor Rob Ellis

Emeritus Professor

School of Psychology (Faculty of Health)



Postgraduate Tutor


Rob graduated in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Nottingham in 1982 and completed a D.Phil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in 1985. He attempts to understand aspects of vision using experimental, computational and philosophical techniques.



Research interests

Rob leads the work of the Vision and Action Research Group within the School of Psycholgy. In a variety of projects (mostly funded by the ESRC) data has been collected which demonstrate the very close intergation of the motor and visual systems. This work has led to models in which action plays an intrinsic role in coding of visual objects in the brain.

Grants & contracts

Since 2001:
Cangelosi, Ellis and Fischer. Vision, action and language unified by embodiment. 2008-2011 (EPSRC, ESRC, BBSRC: £809,000)

Marocco, Belpaeme, Cangelosi and Ellis. Plymouth advanced robot training suite. 2008-2009 (Apple ARTS Laureate award: £15250).

Ellis. Influences on actions: visual objects and other agents. 2008. (The Nuffield Foundation: £1050)

Symes, Ellis and Tucker. Motor-visual priming in change-blindness. 2006-2009 (ESRC: £151595)

Vanio, Ellis and Tucker. The coupling of visual local-global processing and grasp planning. 2005-2006 (ESRC: £46000)
Symes, Ellis and Tucker. Affordances, attention and change-blindness. 2004-2005 (ESRC: £48496)
Ellis, Vainio and Tucker. Visual affordance and lateralisation in action planning and control. 2004-2005 (ESRC: £46000)
Ellis, Derbyshire and Tucker. Affordance and visual memory.. 2003-2004 (ESRC: £42000)
Ellis and Tucker. Micro-affordance and selection for action.. 2001-2004 (ESRC: £138000)




Since 2001:

  • Ellis, R. (in press). Interactions between action and visual objects. In E. Morsella, J.A. Bargh and P.M. Gollwitzer (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Human Action. OUP.
  • Vainio, L, Symes, E., Ellis, R., Tucker, M. and Ottoboni, G. (in press). On the relations between action planning, object recognition, and motor representations of observed actions and objects. Cognition, tba, tba.
  • Symes, E., Tucker, M., Ellis, R., Vainio, L., & Ottoboni, G.. (In Press). Grasp preparation improves change-detection for congruent objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, tba, tba
  • Ellis, R. (2007). The grounding in action of visual object representation. In B. Wallace, A. Ross, J. Davies and T. Anderson (eds.) The Mind, the Body and the World: Psychology After Cognitivism. Imprint Publishing.
  • Ellis, R., Tucker, M., Symes, E., & Vainio, L.. (2007). Does selecting one visual object from several require inhibition of the actions associated with non-selected objects?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance., 33, 670-691
  • Symes, E., Ellis, R., & Tucker, M.. (2007). Visual object affordances: Object Orientation.. Acta Psychologica, 124, 238-255
  • Vainio, L., Ellis, R., & Tucker, M.. (2007). The role of visual attention in action priming.. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60, 241-261
  • Vainio, L., Ellis, R., Tucker, M., & Symes, E.. (2007). Local and global affordances and manual planning.. Experimental Brain Research, 179, 583-594
  • Vainio, L., Tucker M. & Ellis R.. (2007). Precision and power grip priming by observed grasping. Brain and Cognition, 65, 195-207
  • Derbyshire, N., Ellis, R. & Tucker, M.. (2006). The potentiation of two components of the reach-to-grasp action during object categorisation in visual memory. Acta Psychologica, 22, 74-98
  • Vainio, L., Ellis, R., Tucker, M. & Symes, E.. (2006). Manual asymmetries in visually primed grasping. Experimental Brain Research, 173, 395-406
  • Symes, E., Ellis, R., & Tucker, M.. (2005). Dissociating object-based and space-based affordances. Visual Cognition, 12, 1337-1361
  • Tucker M., Ellis R.. (2004). Action priming by briefly presented objects.. Acta Psychologica, 116, 185-203
  • Grèzes, J., Tucker, M., Armony, J., Ellis, R and Passingham, R.E. (2003). Objects automatically potentiate action: an fMRI study of implicit processing. European Journal of Neuroscience. 17, 2735-2740.
  • Tucker M., Ellis R.. (2001). The potentiation of grasp types during visual object categorization.. Visual Cognition, 8, 769-800