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 social behaviour.  We also place a strong emphasis on the experimental approach to research problems in these fields of psychology.

Queen Mary also hosts a Research Centre in Psychology.

Recent topics in which world-class work has been conducted include:

  • decision-making, reasoning, problem-solving and high-level learning in risky/uncertain environments
  • visual perception and gaze in humans and non-human animals
  • colour perception in bumblebees
  • social groups and resilience
  • identity, identity change, health and well-being
  • attentional control in bilinguals
  • differential susceptibility
  • vantage sensitivity
  • life course studies
  • positive development
  • neurogenomic responses to social communication in songbirds
  • the use of zebra fish as a model behavioural assay of addiction
  • vocal communication in goats, deer, cattle, and automated analysis of vocalisations
  • social and physical cognition, emotions and welfare in goats
  • psychology of creativity and innovativeness
  • knowledge effects on decision-making and problem-solving in children and adults
  • sound symbolism and choice of human first names
  • the role of Cannabinoid signalling in several neural processes
  • resilience
  • positive psychology
  • causal reasoning
  • the role of causality in similarity and categorisation
  • gene-brain interaction in mammalian reproductive behaviour
  • face processing and imitation
  • and the philosophy of mind.






Selected publications in this research area

Jetten J, Haslam C, Haslam SA et al. (2014) . How Groups Affect Our Health and Well-Being: The Path from Theory to Policy. SOCIAL ISSUES AND POLICY REVIEW vol. 8, (1) 103-130.

Jones JM, Williams WH, Jetten J et al. (2012) . The role of psychological symptoms and social group memberships in the development of post-traumatic stress after traumatic injury. Br J Health Psychol vol. 17, (4) 798-811.

Jones JM, Jetten J (2011) . Recovering from strain and enduring pain: Multiple group memberships promote resilience in the face of novel physical challenges. Social Psychological and Personality Science vol. 3, 239-243.

Baciadonna L, McElligott AG, Briefer EF (2013) . Goats favour personal over social information in an experimental foraging task. PeerJ vol. 1,

Briefer EF, McElligott AG (2013) . Rescued goats at a sanctuary display positive mood after former neglect. Applied Animal Behaviour Science vol. 146, (1-4) 45-55.

Chittka L, Peng F (2013) . Neuroscience. Caffeine boosts bees' memories. Science vol. 339, (6124) 1157-1159.

Collett M, Chittka L, Collett TS (2013) . Spatial memory in insect navigation. Curr Biol vol. 23, (17) R789-R800.

Dawson EH, Avarguès-Weber A, Chittka L et al. (2013) . Learning by observation emerges from simple associations in an insect model. Curr Biol vol. 23, (8) 727-730.

Faruq S, McOwan PW, Chittka L (2013) . The biological significance of color constancy: an agent-based model with bees foraging from flowers under varied illumination. J Vis vol. 13, (10)

Mareschal I, Calder AJ, Clifford CW Humans have an expectation that gaze is directed toward them. Curr Biol 23(8):717-721 22 Apr 2013

Mareschal I, Calder AJ, Dadds MR et al. (2013) . Gaze categorization under uncertainty: psychophysics and modeling. J Visvol. 13, (5)

Pitcher BJ, Mesoudi A, McElligott AG (2013) . Sex-biased sound symbolism in english-language first names. PLoS One vol. 8, (6)

Pluess M, Belsky J (2013) . Vantage sensitivity: individual differences in response to positive experiences. Psychol Bullvol. 139, (4) 901-916.

Briefer EF, Padilla de la Torre M, McElligott AG (2012) . Mother goats do not forget their kids' calls. Proc Biol Sci vol. 279, (1743) 3749-3755.

Chittka L, Dyer A (2012) . Cognition: Your face looks familiar. Nature vol. 481, (7380) 154-155.

Drnevich J, Replogle KL, Lovell P et al. (2012) . Impact of experience-dependent and independent factors on gene expression in songbird brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A vol. 109 Suppl 2, 17245-17252.

Lihoreau M, Chittka L, Le Comber SC et al. (2012) . Bees do not use nearest-neighbour rules for optimization of multi-location routes. Biol Lett vol. 8, (1) 13-16.

Osman M (2012) . The role of reward in dynamic decision making. Front Neurosci vol. 6,

Osman M, Speekenbrink M (2012) . Prediction and control in a dynamic environment. Front Psychol vol. 3,

Parker M, Brennan CH (2012) . Low and Moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy: effects on social behaviour and propensity to develop substance abuse in later life. BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (13) 1671-1672.

Richards A, HANNON EM, Vitkovitch M (2012) . Distracted by distractors: eye movements in a dynamic inattentional blindness task. Consciousness and Cognition vol. 21, (1) 170-176.

Ali N, Chater N, Oaksford M (2011) . The mental representation of causal conditional reasoning: mental models or causal models. Cognition vol. 119, (3) 403-418.

Eilola TM, Havelka, J (2011) . Behavioural and physiological responses to the emotional and taboo Stroop tasks in native and non-native speakers of English. International Journal of Bilingualism vol. 15, (3) 353-369.

Pluess M, Velders FP, Belsky J et al. (2011) . Serotonin transporter polymorphism moderates effects of prenatal maternal anxiety on infant negative emotionality. Biol Psychiatry vol. 69, (6) 520-525.

Ali N, Green DW, Kherif F et al. (2010) . The Role of the Left Head of Caudate in Suppressing Irrelevant Words. JOURNAL OF COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE vol. 22, (10) 2369-2386.

Bird CD, Emery NJ (2010) . Rooks perceive support relations similar to six-month-old babies. Proc Biol Sci vol. 277, (1678) 147-151.

Briefer E, Vannoni E, McElligott AG (2010) . Quality prevails over identity in the sexually selected vocalisations of an ageing mammal. BMC Biol vol. 8,

Osman M (2010) . Controlling Uncertainty: A Review of Human Behavior in Complex Dynamic Environments. Psychological Bulletin vol. 136, (1) 65-86.

Skorupski P, Chittka L (2010) . Differences in photoreceptor processing speed for chromatic and achromatic vision in the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris. J Neurosci vol. 30, (11) 3896-3903.

Belsky J, Pluess M (2009) . Beyond diathesis stress: differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Psychol Bullvol. 135, (6) 885-908.

Bird CD, Emery NJ (2009) . Insightful problem solving and creative tool modification by captive nontool-using rooks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A vol. 106, (25) 10370-10375.

Chittka L, Niven J (2009) . Are bigger brains better?. Curr Biol vol. 19, (21) R995-R1008.

Chittka L, Skorupski P, Raine NE (2009) . Speed-accuracy tradeoffs in animal decision making. Trends Ecol Evol vol. 24, (7) 400-407.

Crinion JT, Green DW, Chung R et al. (2009) . Neuroanatomical markers of speaking Chinese. Hum Brain Mapp vol. 30, (12) 4108-4115.

Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2009) . Comparative social cognition. Annu Rev Psychol vol. 60, 87-113.

Grogan A, Green DW, Ali N et al. (2009) . Structural Correlates of Semantic and Phonemic Fluency Ability in First and Second Languages. CEREBRAL CORTEX vol. 19, (11) 2690-2698.

Pluess M, Belsky J (2009) . Differential susceptibility to rearing experience: the case of childcare. J Child Psychol Psychiatry vol. 50, (4) 396-404.

Ings TC, Chittka L (2008) . Speed-Accuracy Tradeoffs and False Alarms in Bee Responses to Cryptic Predators. CURR BIOL vol. 18, (19) 1520-1524.

Muller H, Chittka L (2008) . Animal personalities: the advantage of diversity. Curr Biol vol. 18, (20) R961-R963.

Osman M (2008) . Positive transfer and negative transfer/anti-learning of problem-solving skills. J Exp Psychol Gen vol. 137, (1) 97-115.

Vannoni E, McElligott AG (2008) . Low frequency groans indicate larger and more dominant fallow deer (Dama dama) males. PLoS One vol. 3, (9)

Chittka L, Osorio D (2007) . Cognitive dimensions of predator responses to imperfect mimicry?. PLOS BIOL vol. 5, (12) Article e339, 2754-2758.

Dyer AG, Whitney HM, Arnold SEJ et al. (2006) . Bees associate warmth with floral colour. NATURE vol. 442, (7102) 525-525.

Skorupski P, Chittka L (2006) . Animal cognition: An insect's sense of time?. CURR BIOL vol. 16, (19) R851-R853.

Dally JM, Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2006) . Food-caching western scrub-jays keep track of who was watching when. SCIENCEvol. 312, (5780) 1662-1665.

Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2004) . The mentality of crows: Convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. SCIENCE vol. 306, (5703) 1903-1907.

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