The HANDS Lab is directed by Dr. Eliza L. Nelson and housed in the Department of Psychology at Florida International University. HANDS is an interdisciplinary blend of developmental science and primatology. Our comparative research largely falls into two broad areas: laterality and motor skill. We are currently working on trajectory-based models for understanding how the hands shape development in infants and children, and characterizing how spider monkeys use their hands using motion tracking. We utilize Noldus Observer software for our human behavior research, and software from Innovision Systems and Animal Behaviour Pro for our animal behavior research. For more information about our active studies and recent findings, please visit our Projects and Reprints pages. HANDS provides rigorous training in the collection and analysis of reaching, grasping, and manipulation in human and nonhuman primates for graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. Please visit our Team page for information about current trainees and opportunities for prospective students.


  • 01/15/2023: Our systematic review protocol on behavioral laterality over the first year of life in nonhuman primates is available on OSF.

  • 11/19/2022: Our preprint showing reach-to-grasp kinematic signatures in spider monkeys is out on OSF.

  • 11/09/2022: Kaityn Contino presented our latest findings on infant motor-language cascades at ISDP 2022.

  • 11/07/2022: Our paper on developmental cascades as a research framework for primate handedness is out in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

  • 07/27/2022: Kaityn Contino defended her masters thesis using infant hand preference trajectories to predict 5 year language outcomes.

  • 07/09/2022: Kaityn Contino presented our work on cascades of manual exploration onto language outcomes at ICIS 2022.

  • 03/16/2022: Our paper on measuring handedness comparatively in primates is out in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

  • 11/24/2021: Our scoping review protocol on motor-language links in Down syndrome is available on OSF.

  • 10/13/2021: Our chapter on the emergence of fine motor skills in children with Down syndrome is out in the International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities.

  • 08/23/2021: Atefeh Karimi and Kate Luger Long joined the lab as doctoral students in the FIU Developmental Science program.

  • 03/23/2021: Incoming HANDS graduate student Atefeh Karimi was awarded the prestigious FIU Presidential Fellowship.

  • 02/23/2021: Our chapter on developmental primate cognition was accepted for Primate Cognitive Studies (book under contract with Cambridge University Press).

  • 02/19/2021: Our paper using factor analysis with our measure the HHQ (Home Handedness Questionnaire) is out in Applied Neuropsychology: Adult.

  • 11/06/2020: Emily Boeving defended her dissertation. Dr. Boeving is now Lecturer at the University of Central Arkansas and Adjunct Lecturer at FIU.

  • 10/21/2020: We showcased our work on infant growth models for RDBM and our review on developmental primate cognition at ISDP 2020.

  • 08/17/2020: Kaityn Contino joined the lab as a doctoral student in the FIU Developmental Science program.

  • 08/13/2020: Our paper using social networks to examine social development in spider monkeys is out in American Journal of Primatology.

  • 02/16/2020: Our systematic review on how to measure infant handedness reliably from reaching is out in Laterality.

  • 01/30/2020: Our paper showing toddler hand preference trajectories predict 5-year language outcomes is out in Developmental Psychology.

  • 12/20/2019: Dr. Nelson received a Notice of Award for Year 2 of her NIH/NICHD grant infant motor trajectories and language outcomes.

  • 12/03/2019: Our systematic review on whether gross and fine motor skills differentially contribute to language outcomes is out in Frontiers in Developmental Psychology.

  • 08/30/2019: Sandy Gonzalez defended her dissertation. Dr. Gonzalez is now a Senior Research Associate for Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

  • Upcoming Conference Presentations

    11/09/2022: Kaityn Contino will present findings from the lab at ISDP 2022 San Diego.

    Download prior HANDS Lab conference posters

    Get in Touch

    hands@fiu.edu | 305-348-4032 | Deuxieme Maison (DM) 269A

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