School of Psychology

Behavioural Neuroscience

Behavioural Neuroscience
The Behavioural Neuroscience group investigates psychological and neural mechanisms underlying behaviour and psychiatric and neurological disease.

We study psychological and brain mechanisms underlying behaviour and psychiatric and neurological disease. We closely integrate research in human participants with research in rodent models. This allows us to translate detailed mechanistic insights from rodent models to people.

One aim is to understand the conceptual basis of normal behaviour, using associative theories to provide explanations of key phenomena such as learning, attention, recognition memory and timing. Another central goal is to explain the neural mechanisms underlying these effects.

A further important objective is to produce insights into the psychological symptoms and their neural mediation of a wide variety of pathological conditions, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, addictive behaviours, stroke, and age-related cognitive impairment. 

We combine a wide range of methods, including:

  • behavioural testing in rodents and humans, preferentially using conceptually related assays across species
  • pharmacological and genetic manipulations of brain function in rodent models
  • translational neuroimaging
  • in vivo electrophysiology in rodent models

Research areas 

  • Associative mechanisms underlying drug-seeking behaviour, configural learning, timing behaviour and recognition memory, including in ageing and dementia
  • Spatial learning and memory
  • Translational analysis of cognitive impairments, including in schizophrenia, ageing and dementia
  • Devising new cognitive tests to detect early Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairments related to other disorders
  • Neuropharmacology and brain circuits underlying behaviour and cognition, including associative learning, in health and disorder, with a focus on dopaminergic and GABAergic mechanisms within a hippocampo-prefrontal-subcortical circuit
  • The role of circadian CLOCK genes in cognition 
  • Impact of chronic pain on cognition
  • Cerebral stroke and mechanisms of injury
  • Improved animal welfare and validity of rodent models of stroke


We collaborate across the university with colleagues in biosciences, life sciences, mathematics, pharmacy, and medicine. We also participate in several interdisciplinary university-wide research groups and initiatives, including:

In addition, we have active UK and international collaborations, including with industry partners.


Join us

If you are interested in working with us towards a PhD, please contact the group member who you wish to work with.

We offer projects through the BBSRC, ESRC and MRC  Doctoral Training Programmes. These programmes typically have deadlines between November and January for PhD projects starting in September of the following year.

Occasionally, funding may become available for specific PhD projects, which we will advertise on this page and on other suitable job pages.

We also welcome enquiries from candidates who have secured their own funding from other sources.

Research-led teaching

We mainly contribute to teaching in the areas of neuroscience, biological psychology and research methods on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the School of Psychology.

Group members


Associate Professor
My research examines how a brain circuit consisting of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and connected subcortical sites mediates and integrates important cognitive functions, including everyday-type memory (e.g., memory for places and events) and attention, and other behavioural processes (emotional, motivational, sensorimotor).
Associate Professor
My main interest is in associative learning, a process that seems to be designed to let us learn about the causal structure of the world around us, allowing us to predict and control our environment. It is clear that this type of learning is important for the most basic aspects of our daily life, and it is found throughout the animal kingdom.
My research examines the underlying biology of associative learning processes, fundamental to normal cognition, in laboratory rats and mice. Animal learning procedures also provide translational evidence, relevant to our understanding of age-related cognitive decline, as well as to human diseases in which associative processes are disordered.
My research examines the mechanisms of injury following cerebral stroke and other neurodegenerative conditions. I have a long standing interest in the role of steroid hormones and biological sex in determining outcome following CNS injury. 
Associate Professor
My research examines the mechanisms and properties of learning in humans and non-human animals. I am particularly interested in understanding how animals attend to and represent stimuli within the world. Most of my research has employed techniques such as appetitive Pavlovian conditioning with rats, and autoshaping with pigeons. More recently I have become interested in the relationship between schizotypy and cue competition in humans.
Sarah Jones
Research Technician
Research Fellow
Associate Professor 
Associate Professor & Reader in Behavioural Neuroscience

My expertise is in psychopharmacology. I use animal and human translational models to understand the biology of schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. The aim of this research is to find new ways to treat the symptoms of these disorders.
Research Fellow
Associate Professor
I'm currently examining recognition memory in people using eye-tracking. The procedure is an evolution of 'object recognition' memory tasks using in rodents, which have been used to examine the neural substrates of recognition memory. My current interest is in testing competing psychological hypotheses of recognition, which I describe here (Robinson & Bonardi, 2015).
Research Fellow
Assistant Professor

PhD students



School of Psychology

University Park
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

For all enquires please visit: