The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

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Biological and Experimental Psychology

Research in this area focuses on the ultimate (evolutionary) and proximate (genetic, developmental and neurobiological) mechanisms responsible for cognition and behaviour. A central consideration for this group concerns cognitive evolution and the biological basis of human cognition and social behaviour. We also place a strong emphasis on the experimental approach to research problems in these fields of psychology.

Innovative and interdisciplinary research explores how environmental factors and biological mechanism underlie perception, cognition and behaviour. We study these questions from multiple perspectives using both animal models and humans.

Our recent research using animal models has explored:

  • How foraging bees solve the traveling salesman problem;
  • How brain gene expression influences memory formation in songbirds;
  • How vocalisations can be used to assess animal welfare;
  • Whether zebrafish are a viable model for studying impulse control, attention and addiction.

Research with humans has:

  • Elucidated how the sense of control modulates our assessment of threats and responses to complex dynamic environments;
  • Which factors underlie creative thought;
  • How social relations and gene-environment interactions can influence health, well-being and developmental trajectories.  






Selected publications in this research area


1. Mareschal I, Calder AJ, Clifford CW (2013) . Humans have an expectation that gaze is directed toward them. Curr Biol vol. 23, (8) 717-721.

2. Reynolds AM, Lihoreau M, Chittka L (2013) . A simple iterative model accurately captures complex trapline formation by bumblebees across spatial scales and flower arrangements. PLoS Comput Biol vol. 9, (3)

3. Clayton DF (2013) . Genomics of memory and learning in songbirds. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics

4. Greenaway KH, Louis WR, Hornsey MJ, Jones JM Perceived control qualifies the effects of threat on prejudice.Br J Soc Psychol 06 Sep 2013

5. Osman M A Case Study: Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition-Commentary on Evans & Stanovich (2013)PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 8(3):248-252 May 2013

6. Parker MO, Ife D, Ma J et al. (2013). Development and automation of a test of impulse control in zebrafish. Front Syst Neurosci vol. 7,


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