I went to School in Oldham and then came to Oxford University to read Biological Science at New College where after becoming interested in neurobiology, behaviour, and the brain I remained to complete a D.Phil. in Experimental Psychology with a focus on understanding how neural systems in the brain underlie memory. A Research Training Fellowship from the Medical Research Council, followed by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, enabled me to expand my research into the neuroscience of memory and decision-making at Oxford. During this period I was appointed Science Research Fellow at St John’s College and Psychology Lecturer at Magdalen College (the latter appointment I still hold). In 2006 I was appointed to a University Lecturership (now termed Associate Professorship) in Experimental Psychology combined with the Tutorial Fellowship in Psychology at Queen’s. I have been a ‘Visiting Scientist’ at the Cognitive Brain Mapping Laboratory of my collaborators at RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan for many years and am a Visiting Professor at Tohoku University Brain Science Centre, also in Japan. In 2016 I was promoted to a full Professor in Behaviour and Cognitive Neuroscience and I head the ‘Brain and Behaviour Research Group’ in the Department of Experimental Psychology.
I teach part of the first year ‘Introduction to Psychology’ course to Queen’s Experimental Psychology (EP), Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL), and Biomedical Science (BMS) students by means of tutorial courses, with a focus on teaching the ‘Psychobiology’ modules. I am the course coordinator of the Departmentally organised 2nd year (Part I) lecture course in ‘Behavioural Neuroscience’ and so I lecture extensively on this course as well providing the associated tutorials to second year EP/PPL/BMS students who take this course. For final year students I run a popular Advanced Option (Part II) course entitled ‘Neurobiology of Episodic and Semantic Memory’ and I supervise Part II research project and Part II library dissertations for those enthusiastic about areas of research close to my own interests.
The aim of the program of research in my laboratory (funded by the MRC and Wellcome Trust) is to determine how neural systems in the brain interact to mediate basic cognitive processes such as learning, memory, and decision-making. For example, we have long been interested in understanding how brain areas in the temporal lobes and in associated regions, some of which become dysfunction in dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease, operate in mediating perception and memory. Likewise we have also focused our attention on understanding how more anterior brain regions in the frontal lobes operate in mediating other basic cognitive processes including choice behavior. An overarching theme of the current research in my laboratory is to progress beyond the traditional focus of research on individual regions and move to an understanding of how networks of interconnected brain regions interact together to mediate normal learning, memory and cognition. To do this we have to investigate both normal and abnormal brain function using a range of complementary neuropsychological and neurophysiological techniques.