Professor Rob Honey - BSc (Sussex) DPhil (York)


Research group:
029 208 75868
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

Most of my research revolves around how animals and people adapt to their environments in laboratory and naturalistic settings.  I have an ongoing general interest in learning and memory, and a specific interest in the interactions between perceptual and associative learning.  My colleagues, PhD students and I have pursued these interests in rats and people (and sometimes both).  We also investigate the role of various brain structures and processes in learning and memory.

Teaching summary

I offer a cognitive practical to second-year students (on becoming a wine connoiseur), and give tutorials to support first- and second-year teaching.  I contribute to the Level 3 module: Animal Learning and Cognition; and supervise final-year research projects, mostly in the area of learning and memory.  I am Director of Postgraduate Research within the School of Psychology.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

Associative learning and memory:

Honey, R.C., Iordanova, M.D., & Good, M. (2014).  Associative structures in animal learning:  Dissociating elemental and configural processes.  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 96-103.

Cohen-Hatton, S.R., Haddon, J.E., George, D.N., & Honey, R.C. (2013).  Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer: Paradoxical effects of the Pavlovian relationship explained.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 39, 14-23.

Lin, T.E., Dumigan, N.M., Dwyer, D.M., Good, M.A., & Honey, R.C.  (2013).  Assessing the encoding specificity of associations with sensory preconditioning procedures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 39, 67-75.

Lin, T.E., & Honey, R.C. (2011).  Encoding specific associative memory: Evidence from behavioral and neural manipulations.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 37, 317-329.

Configural learning:

Iordanova, M.D., Burnett, D, Good, M., & Honey, R.C. (2011). Pattern memory involves both elemental and configural processes: Evidence from the effects of hippocampal lesions. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125, 567-577.  [Faculty 1000 evaluated this paper to be in the top 2% of those published in Biology and Medicine in the year.]

Iordanova, M.D., Good, M., & Honey, R.C. (2011). Retrieval-mediated learning involving episodes requires synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 7156-7162.

Iordanova, M., Burnett, D., Aggleton, J.P., Good, M., & Honey, R.C. (2009). The role of the hippocampus in mnemonic integration and retrieval: Complementary evidence from lesion and inactivation studies.  European Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 2177-2189.

Close, J., Hahn, U., & Honey, R.C. (2009). Contextual modulation of similarity in the rat.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 509-515.

Perceptual learning:

Montuori, L.M., & Honey, R.C. (2014).  Representation in development: From a model system to some general processes.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (in press).

Mundy, M.E., Downing, P.E., Dwyer, D.M., Honey, R.C., & Graham, K.S. (2013).  A critical role for the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex in perceptual learning of scenes and faces: Complementary findings from amnesia and fMRI.  Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 10490-10502.

Dwyer, D.M., Mundy, M.E., & Honey, R.C. (2011).  The role of stimulus comparison in human perceptual learning: Effects of distractor placement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 37, 300-307.

Honey, R.C., Close, J., & Lin, T.E. (2010). Acquired distinctiveness and equivalence: A synthesis.  In C.J. Mitchell & M.E. Le Pelley (Eds.), Attention and associative learning: From brain to behaviour (pp. 159-186). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


BBSRC project grant; Retrieval-mediated learning: Analysis of a model system (2011-2014; PI, with Professor Mark Good); value: £503 023.

BBSRC project grant; Similarity, learning and memory: A comparative analysis (2007-2010; PI); value: £450 179.
Wellcome 1+3 PhD programme; Integrative Neuroscience (2007); co-developed with Professor John Aggleton (School of Psychology), and members of the Schools of Biosciences and Medicine; value £5.0M; and extended for a further 2 yearly cohorts of 5 students; value £1.5M.

Wellcome Vacation Scholarship (2007; Student: Lewys Morgan); value: £1400.

Roberts funded careers event; Research beyond the concrete towers of academia (2006); value £5120.

BBSRC application for quota PhD studentships (2006-2009; lead applicant); value £650 664.

BBSRC project grant; The hippocampal formation: An examination and integration of spatial and non-spatial functions (2004-2007; with Professors Simon Killcross and Mark Good at Cardiff University, and Dr Kate Jeffery and Professor Neil Burgess at UCL); value £704 879.

Research group

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton (Honorary Research Associate, Psychology, Cardiff University)
Brice Dassy (PhD student, Psychology, Cardiff University)
Natasha Dumigan (PhD student, Psychology, Cardiff University)
Tzu-Ching Esther Lin (Research Associate, Cardiff University)
Luke Montuori (PhD student, Psychology, Cardiff University)
Byron Wilkinson (PhD student, Psychology, Cardiff University)

Research collaborators

John Aggleton (Psychology, Cardiff University)
Dominic Dwyer (Psychology, Cardiff University)
Isabel de Brugada Sauras (Universidad de Granada)
Dave George (Psychology, Hull University)
Mark Good
(Psychology, Cardiff University)
Kim Graham (Psychology, Cardiff University)
Geoffrey Hall (University of York)
Mihaela Iordanova (University of Montreal)
Matthew Mundy (Monash University)
Robin Murphy (University of Oxford)
John Pearce (Psychology, Cardiff University)
Simon Rushton (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Postgraduate research interests

My main interests revolve around learning and memory.  I investigate these processes in both animals and humans.  We have excellent research facilities, and I am currently investigating the theoretical and neural bases of basic associative processes, configural learning, and perceptual learning; and examining how these processes affect behaviour in naturalistic settings.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, in any area of psychology, or you need further information regarding the areas or research in which I supervise postgraduate students, then please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Byron Wilkinson.  Decision making in multi-agency teams.  Self-funding/School of Psychology Studentship.

Philip C. Butler.  The psychology of incident command.  ESRC 1+3 ‘Type 2’ Studentship.

Nicole Pacchiarini.  Integrative analysis of perceptual learning in rodents.  BBSRC SWBio DTP Studentship.

Adela Iliescu.  Predictive coding in rodents.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Previous students

Catherine. J.P. Oswald. (2000).  Contribution of the hippocampal system to attentional processes.  MRC Studentship.

Melissa J. Allman. (2004).  Analysis of the nature of the representations that mediate acquired equivalence and distinctiveness.  Staff Candidate/School of Psychology Studentship.

Anna L. Saggerson. (2005).  Observational and imitative learning in rats and pigeons: Conditions and content.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Matthew E. Mundy. (2006).  Perceptual learning in humans.  MRC Studentship.

Susan Wilkinson. (2007).  Strategies for time allocation across multiple on-line texts.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Mia Schmidt-Hansen. (2007).  Evaluation of latent inhibition and learned irrelevance as assays of attentional abnormalities in schizotypy.  Danish Research Council Studentship.

Christopher S. Grand. (2007).  Perceptual and functional categorisation in associative learning.  Staff Candidate/School of Psychology Studentship.

David Hockey. (2008).  Cognitive scripts in versatile and repeat offenders.  Self-funding.

Dean Burnett. (2009).  The role of the hippocampus in configural memory.  BBSRC Studentship.

James Close. (2009).  Unsupervised categorization and cross-classification in humans and rats.  Staff Candidate/School of Psychology Studentship.

Tzu-Ching Esther Lin. (2010).  Encoding specific associative memories.  Self-funding/Staff Candidate. 

Katy V. Burgess.  (2013).  Associative analyses of reasoning-like behaviour in rats.  BBSRC/School of Psychology Studentship.

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton. (2013).  Understanding the origin of Pavlovian-instrumental interactions.  Self-funding/School of Psychology Studentship. 

Brice F. J. Dassy. (2015). Adaptation to multiple radial optic flows.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Luke M. Montuori.  (2015). Investigating perceptual learning with textural stimuli in rats.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Natasha Dumigan.  (2015). The role of the hippocampus in forming integrated memories for patterns of stimulation.  Staff Candidate/School of Psychology Studentship.

Richard A. Inman. (2015). The discrimination of magnitude.  School of Psychology Studentship. 

Undergraduate education

1983; BSc Experimental Psychology (First Class), University of Sussex.

Postgraduate education

1987; Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology, University of York
Supported by an SERC studentship. Supervised by Professor Geoffrey Hall
Title: “Conditioning and discrimination after nonreinforced stimulus preexposure”.

Awards/external committees

2009-2012: Honorary Professor of Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, University of Nottingham.

2010: Elected to Fellow of the Eastern Psychological Association in recognition of "achievement in psychology".

2009-2011: Core member and ad hoc Chair/Deputy Chair of the BBSRC Committee A: Animal Systems, Health and Wellbeing.

2008: Full member of the BBSRC Animal Sciences Committee.

2001-2005: Officer of the EPS committee.

1999: Experimental Psychology Society Prize.

1988: Kathleen Stott Prize for D.Phil. dissertation.


2003 - Present: Professor of Psychology, Cardiff University.

2001-2003; Reader, Cardiff University.

1993-2001: Royal Society University Research Fellow, Universities of Cambridge and Cardiff.

1991-1993: AFRC Research Associate, University of Cambridge; working with Professors Patrick Bateson and Gabriel Horn.

1989-1991: MRC Research Associate, University of York; working with Professors Geoffrey Hall and Euan Macphail.

1987-1989: SERC Research Associate, University of York; working with Professor Geoffrey Hall.

Academic Responsibilities and Affiliations

1993-1997: Associate Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Section B). 2001-2005: Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Section B).

2007: Co-opted to the BBSRC Animal Sciences Committee as an introducing member.

2009: Visiting Professor on the Masters in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, University of Granada.

1997-2012: Co-organizer, with Professor John Pearce, of the “Associative Learning Symposium” at Gregynog, Wales.
Member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS).

Consultant for research grant committees in the U.K. (BBSRC, ESRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust) and abroad (Austrian Science Foundation, Israel Science Foundation, The German Israeli Foundation For Scientific Research and Development (G.I.F.), and NIMH, NSF).  

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the 'Center of Excellence' grant (Generalization research in ill health and psychopathology: Transdiagnostic processes and transfer of knowledge (GRIP*TT)) from the K.U. Leuven Research Council awarded to the Department of Psychology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (value: €3.2M).

Regular ad hoc reviewer for many international journals, including: Animal Behaviour, Animal Cognition, Animal Learning & Behavior, Behavioural Brain Research, Behavioral Neuroscience, Behavioural Processes, Biological Psychiatry, Brain Research Bulletin, European Journal of Neuroscience, International Journal of Comparative Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Journal of Intelligent Systems, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Learning & Behavior, Learning and Motivation, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Sections A and B), Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Psychological Review, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Trends in Cognitive Sciences.