David Westwood  

David Westwood, PhD

Professor, School of Health and Human Performance (Kinesiology),
Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University
(with appointments in Ophthalmology, Clinical Vision Sciences, Psychiatry, Psychology)
Scientific Staff, IWK Health Centre

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Tel: (902) 494-1164


Visual perception and movement control

Dr. David Westwood is exploring the inner workings of the sensory and motor systems. He is particularly interested in how visual attention and eye movements relate to the control of arm and hand movements, how damage to the nervous system affects movement control, and how damaged systems recover with guided interventions. His findings will aid in the development of new treatments and assistive devices for people with movement disorders due to stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions that affect their ability to control skilled movements.

Dr. Westwood uses sophisticated eye tracking, motion capture and brain imaging technology to explore:

  • how lack of binocular vision affects arm movements
  • mechanisms underlying control of eye and arm movements
  • the nature of motor recovery after stroke

Dr. Westwood collaborates with various other members of AMAP and the Brain Repair Centre, and has been a co-investigator on a five-year, $1.7 million Atlantic Innovation Fund-supported project led by Dr. Gail Eskes to develop and test a cognitive repair kit for people with stroke and other neurological disorders. He's now involved in a new Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada-funded spin-off project with Dr. Eskes to understand the behavioural and neural mechanisms of prism adaptation treatment for spatial neglect following stroke. Among other projects, Dr. Westwood is also part of a team that holds funding to develop a neurofeedback-based Intervention to reduce tremor in essential tremor.

Academic background

David Westwood completed a B.Sc. in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, receiving the Governor General’s Silver Medal for highest grade point average. He then broadened his studies to encompass the mind, earning an MA and a PhD in psychology, also at Waterloo. His theses examined connections between visual perception and action, a line of enquiry he pursued through a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Westwood accepted a faculty position in the kinesiology program at Dalhousie University’s School of Health and Human Performance in 2002, followed by various adjunct appointments in the faculties of Science and Medicine and the IWK Health Centre.

 Selected Publications

Ingram, T.G.J.*, Kraeutner, S.N.*, Solomon, J.P.*, Westwood, D.A., Boe, S.G.(2016).  Skill acquisition via motor imagery relies on both motor and perceptual learning.  Behavioral Neuroscience.

Leblanc, K.A.*, Westwood, D.A.(2016).  Sequential actions: effects of upcoming perceptual and motor tasks on current actions.Experimental Brain Research.

Buckingham, G., Goodale, M.A., White, J.A.*, & Westwood, D.A.(2016).  Equal-magnitude size-weight illusions experienced within and between object categories.  Journal of Vision. 16(25)

Kraeutner S.*, Westwood DA, Mackenzie L*, Boe SA. (2015).  Characterizing skill acquisition throughmental imagery with no prior physical practice.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Harris JW*, Cowper-Smith CD*, Klein RM &  Westwood DA. (2015).  Further evidence against a momentum explanation for IOR.  PLoS ONE. e0123666: ONLINE.

MacKenzie DE*,  Westwood DA. (2015).  Investigating visual attention features during observation of occupational performance.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. : ONLINE.

Avery B*, Cowper-Smith CD*,  Westwood DA. (2015).  Spatial interactions between successive manual responses.  Experimental Brain Research. : ONLINE.

Jazi SD*, Yau M*, Westwood DA, Heath M. (2015).  Pantomime-grasping: the 'return' of haptic feedback supports the absolute specification of object size.  Experimental Brain Research. 233(1): 2029-2040.

Jones SAH*, Cowper-Smith CD*,  Westwood DA. (2014).  Directional interactions between current and prior saccades.  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2014(8): ONLINE.

MacKenzie DE* ,  Westwood DA. (2013).  Observation patterns of dynamic occupational performance.Canadian journal of occupational therapy. Revue canadienne d'ergothérapie. 80(2): 92-100.

Cowper-Smith CD* , Harris J* , Eskes GA ,  Westwood DA. (2013).  Spatial interactions between successive eye and arm movements: signal type matters.  PloS one. 58850: ONLINE.

Cowper-Smith CD* ,  Westwood DA. (2013).  Motor IOR revealed for reaching.  Attention, perception & psychophysics. 75(8): 1914-1922.

 Westwood DA , Jones SA* , Cowper-Smith CD* , Klein RM. (2013).  Changes in trunk orientation do not induce asymmetries in covert orienting.  Attention, perception & psychophysics. 75(6): 1193-1205.

Cowper-Smith CD* , Eskes GA ,  Westwood DA. (2013).  Motor inhibition of return can affect prepared reaching movements.  Neuroscience letters. 541: 83-86.

Mackenzie, D.E.* & Westwood, D.A.(2012).  Occupational therapists and observation: what are you looking at?.  Occupational Therapy Journal of Research. 33(1): 4-11.

Cowper-Smith CD* , Eskes GA ,  Westwood DA. (2012).  Saccadic inhibition of return can arise from latestage execution processes.  Neuroscience letters. 531(2): 120-124.

 Westwood DA , Goodale MA. (2011).  Converging evidence for diverging pathways: neuropsychology and psychophysics tell the same story.  Vision research

Cowper-Smith CD* , Lau EY* , Helmick CA* , Eskes GA ,  Westwood DA. (2010).  Neural coding of movement direction in the healthy human brain.  PloS one. 13350: ONLINE.

Cheung SS , Reynolds LF* , Macdonald MA* , Tweedie CL* , Urquhart RL* ,  Westwood DA. (2008).Effects of local and core body temperature on grip force modulation during movement-induced load force fluctuations.  European journal of applied physiology. 103(1): 59-69.

Flouris AD* ,  Westwood DA , Mekjavic IB , Cheung SS. (2008).  Effect of body temperature on cold induced vasodilation.  European journal of applied physiology. 104(3): 491-499.. 51(8): 804-811.

Flouris AD* ,  Westwood DA , Cheung SS. (2007).  Thermal balance effects on vigilance during 2-hour exposures to -20 degrees C.  Aviation, space, and environmental medicine. 78(7): 673-679.

Cheung SS ,  Westwood, D.A. , Knox MK*. (2007).  Mild body cooling impairs attention via distraction from skin cooling.  Ergonomics. 50(2): 275-288.

Luke F. Reynolds, Christine A. Short, David A. Westwood, Stephen S. Cheung. Head Pre-Cooling Improves Symptoms of Heat-Sensitive Multiple Sclerosis Patients. Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 2011; 38: 106-111.

King, J.P., Christensen, B.A., & Westwood, D.A. (2008). Grasping behaviour in schizophrenia suggests selective impairment in the dorsal visual pathway. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 799-811.

Thompson*, A.A., & Westwood, D.A. (2007). The hand knows something that the eye does not: reaching movements resist the Muller-Lyer illusion whether or not the target is foveated. Neuroscience Letters, 426, 111-116.