Professor Peter Wilson

Deputy Director, Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre
Program Lead, Development and Disability over the Lifespan

360x360px_0000_Wilson pic3_Nov2012

Areas of expertise: motor and cognitive development; neurodevelopmental disorders affecting movement skill, esp. Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD); motor rehabilitation using virtual-reality and related technologies; motor control and learning; motor imagery and mental training; arts-science practice in rehabilitation

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3747-0287

Phone: +61 3 9953 3445


Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

Over the past 24 years, I have developed and led a program of work on motor and cognitive development, supported by several large ARC grants. This work is recognised internationally as perhaps the first to investigate both typical and atypical motor development from a cognitive neuroscientific perspective (Adams et al., 2014; Wilson, 2005, 2008; Wilson et al., 1997, 2013, 2017). My notable collaboration with Prof. Bert Steenbergen (Radboud) has been instrumental in developing further our internal modeling deficit (IMD) hypothesis which has attracted considerable interest and research support internationally. This approach has also underpinned our innovation in the use of digital media for movement therapy—i.e., motor imagery training (Wilson et al., 2001, 2016) and use of augmented feedback using VR and related technology (Green & Wilson, 2011, 2014). 

Our basic science has also been translated into innovations in virtual rehabilitation. I co-lead an Arts-Science collaboration (with Prof. Jonathan Duckworth of CiART, RMIT University) which has designed, developed and evaluated innovations in the use of augmented reality in rehabilitation for children with disorders affecting movement and adults with ABI. Our own tabletop system (Elements DNA—EDNATM) and others feature in our recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses (Aminov et al., 2018; Rogers et al., 2018; Wilson et al., 2016). Our team received an Australian Design Award in 2016 for the development of EDNA, which has also been recently adapted as a take-home tablet device for rehabilitation.

Select publications

Journal articles

  • Rogers, J., Duckworth, J, Middleton, S., Steenbergen, B., & Wilson, P.H. (2019). Elements virtual rehabilitation improves motor, cognitive, and functional outcomes in adult stroke: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, 16(1), 56.
  • Blank, R., Barnett, A.L., Cairney, J., Green, D., Kirby, A., Polatajko, H., Rosenblum, S., Smits-Engelsman, B., Sugden, D. & Wilson, P. et al. (2019). International clinical practice recommendations on the definition, diagnosis, assessment, intervention, and psychosocial aspects of developmental coordination disorder, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 242-285.
  • Lust, J., van Schie, H., Wilson, P.H., van der Helden, J., Pelzer, B., & Steenbergen, B. (2019). Activation of the mirror neuron system is altered in developmental coordination disorder (DCD) - Neurophysiological evidence using an action observation paradigm. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, 232.
  • Smits-Engelsman, B.C.M., Vincon, S., Blank, R., Quadrado, V., Polatajko, H.J., & Wilson, P.H. (2018). Evaluating the evidence for motor-based interventions in developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 74, 72-102.
  • Wilson, P., Smits-Engelsman, B., Caeyenberghs, K., Steenbergen, B., Sugden, D., Clark, J., Mumford, N., & Blank, R. (2017). Cognitive and neuroimaging findings in Developmental Coordination Disorder: New insights from a systematic review of recent research. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 59(11), 1117-1129.
  • Wilson, P., Smits-Engelsman, B.C.M., Caeyenberghs, K., & Steenbergen, B. (2017). Toward a hybrid model of Developmental Coordination Disorder. Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 4, 64-71.
  • Ruddock, S., Caeyenberghs, K., Piek, J., Sugden, D., Hyde, C., Morris, S., Rigoli, D., Steenbergen, S. & Wilson, P. (2016). Coupling of online control and inhibitory systems in children with atypical motor development: A growth curve modelling study. Brain and Cognition, 109, 84-95.
  • Wilson, P., Steenbergen, B., Caeyenberghs, K. Green, D., & Duckworth, J. (2016). Integrating new technologies into the treatment of cerebral palsy and DCD. Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 3, 138-151.
  • Wilson, P., Ruddock, S., Smits-Engelsman, B., Polatajko, H., & Blank, R. (2013). Understanding performance deficits in Developmental Coordination Disorder: A meta-analysis of recent research. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 55(3), 217-228.
  • Blank, R., Smits-Engelsman, B., Polatajko, H., & Wilson, P.H. (2012). European Academy for Childhood Disability (EACD): Recommendations on the definition, diagnosis and intervention of developmental coordination disorder (long version). Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 54 (1), 54-93.
  • Green, D. & Wilson, P.H. (2012). Use of virtual reality in rehabilitation of movement in children with hemiplegia: A multiple case study. Disability and Rehabilitation, 34 (7), 593-604.
  • Mumford, Duckworth, Thomas, Shum, Williams, & Wilson (2010). Upper Limb Virtual Rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury: Initial evaluation of the Elements System. Brain Injury, 24, 780-791.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2005). Practitioner Review: Approaches to assessment and treatment of children with DCD: An evaluative review’, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 46(8), 806-823.
  • Wilson, P.H., Maruff, P., Butson, M., Williams, J., Lum, J. & Thomas, P. (2004). Internal representation of movement in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): A mental rotation task. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 46, 754-759.
  • Wilson, P.H., Thomas, P.R. & Maruff, P. 2002, Motor imagery training ameliorates motor clumsiness in children, Journal of Child Neurology, 17(7), 491-498.
  • Wilson, P.H., Maruff, P. & McKenzie, B.E. 1997, Covert orienting of visuospatial attention in children with developmental coordination disorder, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 39(11), 736-745.

Keynote and invited conference papers

  • Wilson, P. (2018). Understanding DCD research: From data to practice. 2nd Japanese DCD Academic Society Meeting, Hirosaki. JAPAN, April 14-15, 2018.
  • Wilson, P. (2017). Understanding recent research on DCD: From data to practice. 7th National Dyspraxia Conference of NZ. Christchurch NZ, October 6-7, 2017.
  • Smits-Englsman, B. & Wilson, P. (2017). DCD: International Clinical Practice Recommendations. 12th Biennial Conference on Development Coordination Disorder. Fremantle, AUS, July 5-8, 2017.
  • Cairney J, Dewey D, Getchell N, Smits-Englesman B, Wilson P & Zwicker J. (2017). When is DCD not DCD but pDCD or sDCD? Expert Panel. 12th Biennial Conference on Development Coordination Disorder. Fremantle, AUS, July 5-8, 2017.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2016). Mechanisms of Developmental Coordination Disorder. Keynote at the International Symposium on DCD, European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD), Stockholm, May 31 – July 4 2016.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2016). Mechanisms of Developmental Coordination Disorder. Keynote at the International Symposium on DCD, European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD), Stockholm, May 31 – July 4 2016.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2015). Adventures in virtual-reality based rehabilitation: From theory to practice. Oxford Symposium on DCD (June 3, 2015).
  • Wilson, P.H. (2015). Neurodevelopmental disorders and VR-based rehabilitation: Theory to practice. SEHTA Paediatric Neurodisability Conference (Gatwick UK, June 18, 2015).
  • Wilson, P.H. (2015). Arts-Science practice in rehabilitation. Brainwaves Symposium (Melbourne, July 25, 2015).
  • Wilson, P.H. (2010). Putting “development” back into DCD: A cognitive neuroscience approach. European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD). Brussels, May 27-29, 2010.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2009). The development of online motor control in children and the interdependence of thought and action. Keynote address at the 8th Biennial Conference on Development Coordination Disorder. Baltimore, USA, June 23-26, 2009.
  • Wilson, P.H. (2005, November). Shaping up movement intervention research. Keynote address at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series on Developmental Coordination Disorder. Leeds, United Kingdom. Retrieved July 10, 2006, from 
  • Wilson, P.H. (2005, April). Models of movement assessment: What are we doing and where are we going? Keynote address at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series on Developmental Coordination Disorder. Leeds, United Kingdom. Retrieved July 10, 2006, from


Category 1 funded

  • 2018 – 2020. AusIndustry and RMIT ECP.Duckworth, J. (RMIT), Wilson, P. (ACU) & Batty (RMIT). Elements: Brain Injury Rehabilitation for Clinic and Home Use. $738,000.
  • 2012 – 2016. ARC Linkage, and Australia Council for the Arts. Wilson, P., Thomas, P. (Griffith U.), Shum, D. (Griffith U.), & Duckworth, J. Resonance: A digital media artwork for cooperative group interaction in the rehabilitation of acquired brain injury. $175,000.
  • 2010 – 2014. ARC Discovery Grant. Wilson, P., Piek, J. (Curtin U., WA), & Sugden, D. (U. Leeds, UK). The development of rapid online motor control in children. $390,000.
  • 2006 – 2009. ARC Linkage and Australia Council for the Arts. ELEMENTS—An Augmented Reality Workspace for Movement Rehabilitation of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Patients. Wilson, P., Thomas, P. (Griffith U.), Shum, D. (Griffith U.), & Duckworth, J. $265,000.
  • 2003 – 2005. ARC Discovery. The development of feedforward mechanisms of motor control: The role of efference copy in motor skill development. Wilson, P., Thomas, P. (Griffith U.), & Maruff, P. (La Trobe U.). $211,000.

Other funded

  • 2020 – 2021. Telstra and RMIT. Playboards - Designing playful activities on interactive surfaces to increase social participation, mobility, and cognition of elderly in residential community care. Duckworth, J. (RMIT) and Wilson, P. $10,000.
  • 2020 – 2022. ACU Research Centre Scheme. Development and Disability Over the Lifespan Research Program, Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre. Wilson, P. & Cole, M.
  • 2009 – 2010. Guys & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London. RE-ACTION: Virtual Reality Augmented Workspace for Paediatric Rehabilitation. Green, D. (Evelina Hospital, London & Kings College, London), Lin, J-P. (Guys & St. Thomas’ Hospital), & Wilson, P. $40,000.

Accolades and awards

  • Australian Good Design Award, 2016 – Elements
  • Premiers Design Award (2015) for Innovation in Digital Design – The Elements Victoria, Australia.
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (PhD Scholarship): 1992 – 1995.

Appointments and affiliations

  • International Professorial Fellow (2017- present), Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Radboud University, the Netherlands, 2015.
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Oxford-Brookes University, UK, 2015.
  • Visiting Research Fellow, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. June 2004.
  • Visiting Research Fellow, University of Calgary, Canada. June 2004.
  • Professorial Member, Centre for Disability and Development Research (CeDDR).
  • Chair, School of Behavioural and Health Sciences Research Committee, ACU

Editorial roles

  • Editorial Board, Comprehensive Clinical Medicine, Nature Springer. 2018 – present.
  • Section Editor, Current Developmental Disorders Reports, Springer. 2014 – present.
  • Editorial Board, Research in Developmental Disabilities.
  • Editorial Board, Human Movement Science.
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
  • Associate Editor, Medical Science Monitor.
  • Guest Editor, Human Movement Science, 27,
  • Guest Editor, Child: Care, Health and Development, 32(6), 2006.

International journal review panel

  • Developmental Science
  • Frontiers in Psychology
  • Journal of Pediatrics
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology
  • Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry
  • Developmental Neuropsychology
  • Human Movement Science
  • Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
  • Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
  • Developmental Neuropsychology
  • Behavioural Brain Research
  • Experimental Brain Research
  • Brain & Cognition
  • Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychologia
  • Journal of Motor Behaviour
  • Child: Care, Health & Development
  • Research in Developmental Disabilities
  • Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics
  • Neuroscience Letters
  • Journal of Motor Learning & Development
  • Brain Injury
  • Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering
  • Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry
  • Journal of Sports Science

Grant agency review panels

  • FWO, Belgium
  • FRS, France
  • ARC Discovery
  • ARC Linkage
  • Wellcome Trust (UK)
  • Ontario Mental Health Foundation (Canada)
  • Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation
  • ZonMW, Health Research Programme (The Netherlands)
  • FNRS, Belgium

Public engagement

  • The new touchscreen game therapy helping patients recover from stroke, Channel 7 National News, Dec 11, 2019.
  • Keeping kids in their uniforms makes everyone equal, The New Daily, Jan. 2019.
  • Using commuting time more effectively: ABC News, August 2018.
  • Elements VR System, Channel 9 National News, December 2015, Epworth Hospital.
  • Going-back-to-work blues. News Corp. January 2014.
  • What upsets people most on planes. Melbourne Herald Sun, January 2014.
  • ELEMENTS System in Action. Channel 10 News. January 2009.
  • Making the future work. RMIT Promotional Publication, The Australian. 2009.
  • Interview on children’s promotional toys. ABC Drivetime. January 2009.
  • “Babies should be custom made”. Interview on genetic manipulation for News.Com. August 2007.
  • Twins Special. Expert consultant on motor skill. Channel 7. 2003.

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