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Professor Dominic M Dwyer BSc PhD

Professor Dominic M Dwyer

BSc PhD

School of Psychology

Email
dwyerdm@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6285
Campuses
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Research summary

Research theme: Neuroscience

My research addresses how animals and people learn – and how that learning is expressed in behaviour (in particular with respect to hedonic reactions).  This research includes computational modelling, the analysis of animal models of human psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders (in particular schizophrenia, depression and dementia), as well as the assessment of individual differences in human and non-humans.

Teaching summary

I am the chair for the BSc and MSc exam boards.

Years 1 and 2: I teach introductory statistics. I also run perception practicals and give tutorials on social, perception, cognition and abnormal/clinical psychology.

Final year: I lecture of animal learning & cognition.  I supervise projects on a variety of topics including face perception and evaluative conditioning.

Biography

Undergraduate education

In 1995, I received a BSc (Honours Class 1, Medal) in Psychology from the University of Sydney.

The title of my empirical thesis was Activity-Based Anorexia.

The title of my theoretical thesis was The nature of number and measurement in psychology.

I also studied Statistics, Mathematics, Law, Chemistry.

Postgraduate education

In 1999, I received my PhD from the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge.

My thesis title was Learning about absent stimuli. I was supervised by Professor N.J. Mackintosh.

Honours and awards

  • 2015: Inaugural 3Rs Poster Prize Winner, Annual Welfare and Research Symposium, Cardiff University.
  • 2013-2015: Visiting Fellow, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales.
  • 2011: Delivered the 18th Experimental Psychology Society Prize Lecture
  • 2000: Emanuel Miller Prize for the Philosophy of Science
  • 1996: Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Packer Scholarship for graduate study.
  • 1995: University Medal for Psychology
  • Dick Thomson Prize for Psychology
  • Australian Psychological Society Prize for Psychology Honours.

Academic positions

  • 2016 - present: Professor, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 2012 - 2016: Reader, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 2007 - 2012: Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 2003 - 2007: Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 2002 - 2003: Research Associate, Cardiff University
  • 1999 - 2002: Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Speaking engagements

I have been invited to give lectures at many institutions both within Britain (eg The Zangwill lecture at the University of Cambridge and at Eli Lilly & Company), and internationally (eg The University of Sydney and The University of NSW).

Committees and reviewing

External examiner

University of Cambridge (2019-present): Department of Psychology; Undergraduate.

Kings College London (2015-2019): Undergraduate Psychology.

Newcastle University (2012-2015): Department of Psychology; Undergraduate.

Editorial positions

Consulting Editor: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition (2014-2019).

Associate Editor: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2009-2016).

Editor for Special Issue on “Animal cognition: Reasoning or association? Current controversies and possible ways forward.” Journal of Comparative Psychology 2016.

Conference organization

Organiser for Associative Learning Symposium (Annually from 2012).

Member of Programme Committee for 2017 Annual Convention of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour.

Local organiser April 2007 meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society.

Publications

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Teaching

I am the chair for the BSc and MSc exam boards.

Years 1 and 2: I teach introductory statistics. I also run perception practicals and give tutorials on social, perception, cognition and abnormal/clinical psychology.

Final year: I lecture of animal learning & cognition.  I supervise projects on a variety of topics including face perception and evaluative conditioning.

PhD: In addition to my own PhD supervision I have examined both MSc and PhD theses both internally and externally (e.g. for the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, and the University of Granada).

Research topics and related papers


Investigating genetic and environmental risk in models of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. We are investigating the cognitive and hedonic disturbances displayed by animal models of risk for psychiatric disorders.  This encompasses a range of PhD and UKRI funded projects (e.g. MRC - Investigating genetic and environmental risk for psychosis mediated through L-Type voltage gated calcium channels).


Wright, R. L., Gilmour, G., & Dwyer, D. M. (2020) Wistar Kyoto Rats display anhedonia in consumption but retain some sensitivity to the anticipation of palatable solutions. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 14:70.

Lewis, L. R., Benn, A., Dwyer, D. M., & Robinson, E. S. J. (2019). Affective biases and their interaction with other reward-related deficits in rodent models of psychiatric disorders. Behavioural Brain Research, 372.

Ahmed, J., Dwyer, D. M., Farr, T. D., Harrison, D., Dunnett, S. B., & Trueman, R. C. (2017). Lickometry: A novel and sensitive method for assessing functional deficits in rats after stroke. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 37(3), 755-761

McNamara, G. I., Davis, B. A., Dwyer, D. M., John, R. M., Isles, A. R. (2016). Behavioural abnormalities in novel mouse model for Silver Russell Syndrome, Human Molecular Genetics, 25(24), 5407-5417. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddw357

 
 
Computational models of learning and memory.  We are developing a new computational model of Pavlovian learning and performance.  The canonical model, HeiDI, was published in a set of papers in 2020, and we have recently secured funding from the BBSRC to support its development through iterative experimental research (BB/T004339/1).

Honey, R.C., Dwyer, D.M., & Iliescu, A.F. (2020).  HeiDI: A model for Pavlovian learning and performance with reciprocal associations.  Psychological Review (in press).

Honey, R.C., Dwyer, D.M., & Iliescu, A.F. (2020).  Elaboration of a model of Pavlovian learning and performance: HeiDI.  Current developments in associative theory: A tribute to Allan Wagner. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition (in press).

Honey, R.C., Dwyer, D.M., & Iliescu, A.F. (2020).  Individual variation in vigor and form of Pavlovian conditioned responses: Analysis of a model system. Learning & Motivation (in press).

Iliescu, A.F., Dwyer, D.M., & Honey, R.C. (2020).  Individual differences in the nature of conditioned behavior across a conditioned stimulus: Adaptation and application of a model.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition (in press).

Iliescu, A. F., Hall, J., Wilkinson, L. S., Dwyer, D. M., & Honey, R. C. (2018). The nature of phenotypic variation in Pavlovian conditioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning & Cognition, 44(4), 358-369.

 

Hedonic responses in learning and animal welfare. We are investigating the expression of hedonic responses in the context of learning (especially with respect to learning about foods) and animal welfare (both of laboratory and farmed animals).  This encompasses a range of PhD and international collaboration projects (e.g. Fondecyt Regular, Chile - Sensory specific satiety in pigs: Feed variety as a strategy to improve animals’ performance and welfare in intensive farming).


Figueroa, J., Frias, D., Sola-Oriol, D., Tadich, T., Franco-Rossello, R., Nunez, V., & Dwyer, D. M. (2019). Palatability in pigs, the pleasure of consumption. Journal of Animal Science, 97(5), 2165-2174.

Riordan, J. E., & Dwyer, D. M. (2019). Licking microstructure and hedonic changes after flavour preference learning in rats. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(12), 2717-2725.

López, M., Dwyer, D. M., & Gasalla, P. (2019). Conditioned hedonic responses elicited by contextual cues paired with nausea or with internal pain. Behavioral Neuroscience, 133(1), 86-97.

Clarkson, J. M., Dwyer, D. M., Flecknell, P. A., Leach, M. C., & Rowe, C. (2018). Handling method alters the hedonic value of reward in laboratory mice. Scientific Reports, 8. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20716-3

Dwyer D. M., Figueroa, J., Gasalla, P., & López M., (2018) Reward adaptation and the mechanisms of learning: Contrast changes reward value in rats and drives learning. Psychological Science, 29(2), 219-227

Research group

Adela (Ina) Iliescu (BBSRC Research Associate)

Patricia Gasalla (MRC Research Associate)

Lucy Lewis (BBSRC SWBio funded PhD Student)

Sophie Waldron (Wellcome Trust funded PhD Student)

Katie Sedgewick (Wellcome Trust funded PhD Student)

Research collaborators

Bob Boakes (University of Sydney)

Jaime Figueroa (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Mark Good (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Jeremy Hall (Medicine, Cardiff University)

Rob Honey (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Matías López (Universidad de Oviedo)

Lawrence Wilkinson (Psychology and Medicine, Cardiff University)

Supervision

My theoretical interests are range across the associative and neural mechanisms underpinning learning, memory and preference. My postgraduate students are engaged in a variety of projects and have access to a broad range of state-of-the-art facilities and resources.  

I am interested in discussing the possibility of supervising research projects related to any of my theoretical interests or areas of empirical expertise.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly, or submit a formal application.

Current students

Lucy Lewis: (co-supervised by Professor Emma Robinson (Bristol) and Professor Mark Good) Lucy began her PhD research in 2017 examining methods for assessing affective and cognitive deficits in rodents and applying them to the analysis of models of depression.

Sophie Waldron: (co-supervised by Professor Jeremy Hall) Sophie began her PhD research in 2017 examining the DLG2 model of risk for psychiatric disorder.

Katie Sedgewick: (co-supervised by Professor John Aggleton and Professor Mark Good) Katie began her PhD research in 2019 examining cognitive and hedonic behaviour in rodent models of dementia risk.

Past projects

Selected past PhD Students, with titles, funding sources, and career paths

Adela Iliescu: (2019) HeiDI: How excitation and inhibition determine ideomotion.  School of Psychology Studentship.  Won Prize for Early Promise.  Post-PhD positions: Office of National Statistics.  BBSRC Post-doctoral Research Assistant, Cardiff University.

Rebecca Wright: (2016) Anhedonia and other Reward-Related Deficits in Animal Models of Psychiatric Disorder.  BBSRC industrial CASE studentship (sponsored by Eli Lilly & Company). Post-PhD positions: NHS Clinical Scientist.

Katy Burgess: (2013) Associative analyses of reasoning-like behaviour in rats.  BBSRC Staff Candidate/School of Psychology Studentship.  Won Prize for Early Promise.  Post-doctoral Research Assistant, University of Nottingham; Lecturer at University of Leicester and now the University of Bristol.

Scott Jones: (2013) Supporting face familiarization using perceptual and engineering frameworks. EPSRC studentship. Research Fellow, University of Birmingham. Lecturer, Bath Spa University.

Emma Lydall: (2010) Palatability and animal models of schizophrenia. BBSRC CASE studentship (co-funded by Eli Lilly and company). Research Associate, Cardiff University. NHS Clinical Scientist.

Matthew Mundy: (2006) Perceptual learning in humans.  MRC Studentship.  Lecturer, Monash University.