The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

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Biological and Experimental Psychology

We study and teach the psychology of humans and animals: its evolution, its mechanisms, its failures (psychopathology) and its triumphs (well-being). We emphasise an interdisciplinary approach, focused at the interface between psychology (perception, cognition, communication and social life) and biology (genomics, neuroscience, ethology and evolution).

Cross-cutting strengths represented in the department include:

Perception and Decision Making
The study of cognition is pursued at several levels, from low-level perception and attention (Dr. Isabelle Mareschal, Dr. Caroline Brennan, Dr. Emily Hannon) to high-order processes such as decision making and language (Dr. Magda Osman, Dr. Tiina Eilola, Dr. Nathan Emery, Professor Lars Chittka). Research in this area draws from a mixture of techniques to monitor (and potentially model) both behaviour and brain activity in humans and animal models.

Resilience, Health and Well-being
What contributes most to an individual’s happiness and success in life? Current research emphasises the interplay between endogenous biological factors and the external social and physical environment. Researchers in this area include Dr. Michael Pluess, Dr. Janelle Jones, Dr. Sevasti Foka, Dr. Tiina Eilola.

Comparative Psychology
Study of animals can provide unique insight into the mechanisms of brain and behaviour and how they have evolved. SBCS has a rich endowment of researchers studying animal models such as bees (Prof Lars Chittka), corvids and primates (Dr Nathan Emery), songbirds (Prof David Clayton, Dr. Robert Lachlan), zebra fish (Dr Caroline Brennan), and goats, cattle and deer (Dr Alan McElligott). Research foci include mechanisms of cognition (Prof Lars Chittka, Dr. Nathan Emery, Dr. Caroline Brennan), communication (Prof David Clayton, Dr Alan McElligott, Dr Rob Lachlan) and well-being (Dr Alan McElligott, Prof David Clayton). Comparative research on brain and behaviour is also represented in the Neurobiology group.

Our environment offers rich opportunities for collaborative research with strong links to other Schools within the faculty, including Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and to research centres and facilities including:

In the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Sciences:






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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