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Rajal Cohen



Student Health Center 212

Mailing Address

Department of Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho MS 3043
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3043

Rajal Cohen studies the interconnectedness of cognition, posture and action, with a special interest in principles that apply across the spectrum from high performance to dysfunction.

» Watch Dr. Cohen’s Mind in Movement Lab Research

  • Ph.D., Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, 2008
  • M.S., Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, 2005
  • B.A., Psychology, Wesleyan University, 2002

Rajal Cohen joined the University of Idaho faculty in 2012, following a postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon Health & Science University where she worked to untangle the complex relationship between cognitive and motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. During her graduate work at Penn State, she focused on how young, healthy people plan and carry out everyday movements including reaching, pointing, and throwing. Before that, Dr. Cohen trained in the Alexander Technique and had a private practice in rural Virginia, helping athletes, performing artists, and people with musculoskeletal pain learn to live in their bodies with greater power and ease. This experience inspired her decision to pursue a career investigating the mind-body connection. Dr. Cohen’s research program in the Mind in Movement Lab incorporates elements from all of these previous career stages.

  • Cognitive and neural factors underlying control of posture and action
  • Causes and consequences of musculoskeletal pain
  • Mechanisms and effectiveness of mind-body interventions
  • Motor and non-motor aspects of Parkinson's disease

  • Johnson, M.B. & Cohen, R.G. (2023). Altered coordination strategies during upright stance and gait in teachers of the Alexander Technique. Frontiers in Aging, 4, 1090087.
  • *Baer, J. L., Vasavada, A., & Cohen, R. G. (2022). Posture biofeedback increases cognitive load. Psychological Research, 86, 1892-1903.
  • Cohen, R.G., *Baer, J.L., *Ravichandra, R., *Kral, D. McGowan, C.P., & Cacciatore, T.W. (2020). Lighten up! Postural instructions affect static and dynamic balance in healthy older adults. Innovations in Aging, 64, igz056. PMID 32226825
  • *Baer, J.L., Vasavada, A., & Cohen, R.G. (2019). Anticipation and inhibition affect neck posture. Human Movement Science, 108-122. PMID 30710861
  • *Becker J.J., Copeland S.L., *Botterbusch E.L., & Cohen, R.G. (2018). Preliminary evidence for feasibility, efficacy, and mechanisms of Alexander technique group classes for chronic neck pain. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 39, 80–86. PMID 30012397
  • Cohen, R.G., Vasavada, A.N., Wiest, M., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2016). Mobility and upright posture are associated with different aspects of cognition in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8:257. PMID 27877123
  • Peterson, D.S., King, L.A., Cohen, R.G., & Horak, F.B. (2016). Cognitive contributions to freezing of gait in Parkinson disease – Implications for physical rehabilitation. Physical Therapy Journal, 96, 659-670. PMID 26381808

*Graduate student

  • Basic research relating how people sit, stand, and move; how accurately they can detect position and movement; how impulsive they are; and self-reports of mindfulness, neck pain, and activity level. Some of these studies also include EEG.
  • Embodied cognition experiments in which we manipulate posture and measure the effects on task performance.
  • Intervention studies that apply a mind-body approach to address diverse conditions including neck pain, Parkinson’s disease, and caregiver stress.

  • Co-founder and primary contributor to a website devoted to improving scientific understanding of the Alexander Technique (AT) - its principles, practices, reported and demonstrated benefits, and terminology. The content ranges from descriptions of direct experiments on the effects of AT lessons to focused explanations of relevant current science to rigorously researched history of the work.
  • Scientific consultant for an organization devoted to bringing principles of adaptive movement and posture to those who can use them. Projects include applying for grants from foundations and delivering and testing group courses (both in-person and online) for adults caring for a family member with a neurodegenerative disease.

  • U of I Office of Research and Economic Development Research Equipment and Infrastructure Support Award, Electroencephalography (EEG) System for Investigating Neural Correlates of Cognition and Action, 2018
  • Undergraduate Collaborative Research Key Grant, 2016
  • Kurt Olsson Early Career Research Fellowship, A Non-Exercise Intervention to Improve Balance in the Elderly, 2014
  • University of Idaho Seed Grant, Movement Planning, Impulse Control, and Forward Head Posture, 2013
  • Undergraduate Collaborative Research Key Grant, 2013
  • OHSU post-doc paper of the year, runner-up, 2011
  • Penn State College of Liberal Arts Dissertation Award, 2008
  • Penn State University Graduate Fellowship, 2002-2005

  • Mountain West Research Consortium CTR-IN Pilot Project Enhancement Grant, An online course to improve the motor symptoms in rural older adults with Parkinson's, 2020
  • Mountain West Research Consortium CTR-IN Pilot Grant, Lighten Up: Modifying Postural State to Reduce Fall Risk, 2015
  • NIH Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 2010-2012
  • NIH-sponsored Training Course in fMRI, 2009

Psychology & Communication

Physical Address:
206 Student Health Center

Mailing Address:
Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3043
Moscow, ID 83844-3043

Phone: 208-885-6324

Fax: 208-885-7710


Web: Psychology and Communication