John Pearce

Research interests

My principal research interest is with understanding how animals solve discriminations. I have developed a formal theory, in the form of a connectionist network; to explain how relatively simple discriminations are solved. My research is currently directed at extending the application of the theory to more complex discriminations based on, for example, biological movement and spatial relationships. My other research interest is concerned with identifying the mechanisms of spatial learning that allow an animal to locate a hidden goal by referring to landmarks that are some distance from it.

Studies of discrimination learning take place in standard conditioning chambers for rodents and birds, fitted with TFT screens for presenting the discriminative stimuli. Spatial learning is studied in rats and pigeons using arenas with well defined geometric shapes and computer-controlled tracking equipment.

 Available PhD projects

  1. The role of attention in discrimination learning
  2. The representation of cues in spatial learning.

Research keywords

 Discrimination learning, spatial learning, associative learning theory