Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Robert Honey  BSc (Sussex) DPhil (York)

Professor Robert Honey BSc (Sussex) DPhil (York)


Yr Ysgol Seicoleg

+44 29208 75868
Adeilad y Tŵr, Ystafell 5.07, Plas y Parc, Caerdydd, CF10 3AT
Ar gael fel goruchwyliwr ôl-raddedig


Research summary

Research theme: Neuroscience

My research interests involve how animals and people adapt to their environments: how learning and memory influence behaviour and decision-making.  These interests are pursued from a variety of perspectives including computational models, brain systems and behavioural experiments in laboratory and real-world settings.

I am Director of Research within the School of Psychology; Co-Director of Human Factors Excellence (HuFEx) at Cardiff University: https://www.hufex.co.uk; and Cardiff Lead for the BBSRC SWBio Doctoral Training Programme: https://www.swbio.ac.uk.

Teaching summary

I am co-ordinator for the Final Year module Animal Learning and Cognition, give Year Two tutorials, and contribute to the Year One module Psychological Research.  I also supervise Final Year projects in a broad range of areas.








































Book sections





Research topics and related papers

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).

Behavioural neuroscience of learning and memory.  We also study the neural bases of learning and memory.  Most recently, we have been investigating texture processing using a combination of state-of-the-art neuroscientific techniques and recently developed behavioural tasks that enable texture learning to be studied naturalistic settings.  This research is also funded by the BBSRC (BB/T007028/1).

Pacchiarini, N., Berkeley, R., Fox, K., & Honey, R.C. (2020).  Whisker-mediated texture discrimination learning in freely moving mice.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 46, 40-46.

Pacchiarini, N., Fox, K., & Honey, R.C. (2017).  Perceptual learning with textures in rodents: Shaping the somatosensory system.  Learning & Behavior, 45, 107-114.

Murphy, R.A., & Honey, R.C. (2016).  The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Decision-making in the emergency services.   We are interested in how learning and memory processes support decision-making in emergency settings.  This research is co-produced with the UK Fire and Rescue Service; and has been supported by the BBSRC, ESRC and the Fire Service Research and Training Trust.

Butler, P.C., Honey, R.C., & Cohen-Hatton, S.R. (2020).  Development of a behavioral marker system for incident command in the UK Fire and Rescue Service: THINCS.  Cognition, Technology & Work, 22, 1-12.

Wilkinson, B., Cohen-Hatton, S.R., & Honey, R.C. (2019).  Decision making in multi-agency groups at simulated major incident emergencies: In situ analysis of adherence to UK doctrine.  Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 27, 306-316.

Cohen-Hatton, S.R., & Honey, R.C. (2015).  Goal-oriented training affects decision-making processes in virtual and simulated fire and rescue environments.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21, 395-406. [Sabrina Cohen-Hatton won the 2017 APA New Investigator award for this research]

Cohen-Hatton, S.R., Butler, P.C., & Honey, R.C. (2015).  An investigation of operational decision making in situ: Incident command in the UK fire and rescue service. Human Factors, 57, 793-804.  [The research reported in this paper was awarded the FIRE/Gore Research Excellence Award 2014.]

External funding (personal)

BBSRC Project Grant (BB/T004339/1): How knowledge affects behaviour in a model system (2020-2023; PI; with Dominic Dwyer, Co-I); value: £497479.

BBSRC Project Grant (BB/T007028/1): Cortical pathways and synaptic mechanisms for texture discrimination learning in rodents (2020-2023; Co-I; with Kevin Fox, PI, and Joe O’Neill, Co-I); value: £902314.

Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (PGC2018-095965-B-I00): Analysis of learning by stimulus exposure: Theoretical and practical implications (2019-2021; Co-I; Isabel de Brugada, PI); value: €77077.

BBSRC SWBio DTP studentship: Integrative analysis of perceptual learning in rodents (2015-2019; joint supervisor with Kevin Fox); value: £93356; with an additional £20000 In Vivo Skills Award.

BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2018 prize: Behavioural neuroscience underpins new guidance for firefighters and the emergency services; with Sabrina Cohen-Hatton; total value: £20000; for Overall Winner and Social Impact Winner.

Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad:  Perceptual learning in animals and humans: Comparison and salience modulation (2017-2020; Isabel de Brugada Sauras, PI; international Co-I with Geoffrey Hall; local Co-Is: Marta Gil, Sergio Recio, Ina Iliescu).

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (ES/M500422/1): Multi-agency decision making at major incidents (2018; with Byron Wilkinson, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, and Philip Butler); value: £6400.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (ES/M500422/1): UK Fire and Rescue Service Behavioural Marker System Mobile App (2017-2018; with Philip Butler); value: £8852.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (ES/M500422/1): Decision making at emergency incidents (2015-2016; with Sabrina Cohen-Hatton); value: £3662.

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación: Common mechanisms in human and animal perceptual learning (2013-2016; Co-I with Isabel de Brugada Sauras, PI; and Geoffrey Hall, Co-I, Michelle Symonds and Marta Gil); value: €200000.

BBSRC project grant (BB/I014098): Retrieval-mediated learning: Analysis of a model system (2011-2015; PI, with Mark Good); value: £503023.

BBSRC project grant (BB/F000553/1): Similarity, learning and memory: A comparative analysis (2007-2010; PI); value: £450179.

BBSRC project grant (BBS/B/15635): The hippocampal formation: An examination and integration of spatial and non-spatial functions (2004-2007; with Simon Killcross and Mark Good at Cardiff University; and Kate Jeffery and Neil Burgess at UCL); value £704879.

BBSRC project grant (S19788): Conditional learning and stimulus selection: From neural networks to neural mechanisms (2002-2007; PI; with Simon Killcross); value £267476.

BBSRC project grant (72/S13307): Priming effects in animal memory: Conceptual analysis and neural substrates (2000-2003; PI; with Mark Good); value £194064.

Wellcome Trust grant (054172/Z/98/Z/JRS/MK/JAT): Understanding the contribution of the rostral thalamus to mnemonic processing (1998-2001; with John Aggleton, PI, and Janice Muir); value £158677.

BBSRC project grant (S05720): The role of the hippocampal system in perceptual learning (1996-1999; with Mark Good); value £138624.

Royal Society University Research Fellowship: Conceptual issues and brain mechanisms in animal recognition memory (1993-2001); approximate value £280000.

External funding (institutional)

BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme, SWBio3 (5 yearly cohorts from 2020); including core partners: Bristol (Lead Institution), Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, and Rothamsted Research.  Cardiff Lead; total value: £18.5M.

BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme, SWBio2 (5 yearly cohorts from 2015); including Bristol (Lead Institution), Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, and Rothamsted Research.  Cardiff Lead; total value: £8M.

Wellcome 1+3 PhD programme in Integrative Neuroscience (5 yearly cohorts of 5 students from 2007); co-developed with Professor John Aggleton (School of Psychology) and members of the Schools of Biosciences and Medicine; value £5M.  Extended for a further 2 yearly cohorts of 5 students from 2013; value £1.5M.

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

Renewal of MRC co-operative group grant (G9724886): Learning, memory and neuronal plasticity in mammalian systems (2002-2007; co-applicant; with colleagues in the Schools of Psychology (John Aggleton, Mark Good, Peter Halligan, Simon Killcross, Janice Muir, John Pearce, and Ed Wilding) and Biosciences (David Carter, Stive Dunnett, Kevin Fox, and Frank Sengpeil); value: £628 663.

MRC co-operative group grant (G9724886): Learning, memory and neuronal plasticity in mammalian systems (1998-2001; co-applicant; with colleagues in the Schools of Psychology (John Aggleton, Mark Good, Janice Muir, and John Pearce) and Biosciences (David Carter, Paul Chapman, and Kevin Fox); value: £56 900.

Research group

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton (Cardiff University Fellow)

Adela (Ina) Iliescu (BBSRC Research Associate)

Sungmin Kang (BBSRC Research Associate)

Anurag Pandey (BBSRC Research Associate)

Philip Butler (ESRC funded PhD Student)

Paula Riella (Gwent Police funded PhD Student)

Byron Wilkinson (School of Psychology funded PhD student)

Research collaborators

John Aggleton (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Dominic Dwyer (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Isabel de Brugada Sauras (Universidad de Granada)

Kevin Fox (Biosciences, Cardiff University)

Mark Good (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Geoffrey Hall (University of York)

Jeremy Hall (Medicine, Cardiff University)

Joseph O’Neill (Psychology, Cardiff University)

John Pearce (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Lawrence Wilkinson (Psychology and Medicine, Cardiff University)


Undergraduate education

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

Postgraduate education

1987; DPhil Psychology; dissertation title: Conditioning and discrimination after nonreinforced stimulus preexposure; SERC studentship, University of York.


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

1989-1991; MRC Research Associate, University of York.

1987-1989; SERC Research Associate, University of York.

Honorary positions

BBSRC Impact Ambassador (2018-2019).

Visiting Professor (2009, 2014), Faculty of Psychology, University of Granada.

Visiting Professor (2012), Faculty of Psychology, University of San Sebastian.

Honorary Professor of Experimental Psychology (2009-2012), Faculty of Science, University of Nottingham.

Academic Responsibilities and Affiliations

External examiner

University of Cambridge (2017-2019); Department of Psychology; Undergraduate.

University of Nottingham; School of Psychology; Postgraduate.

University of York; Department of Psychology; Postgraduate.

Editorial positions

Associate Editor: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition (2019-2024).

Editor: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Section B; 2001-2005).

Associate Editor: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Section B; 1993-1997).

Professional bodies

Officer of the EPS committee (2001-2005).

Member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS).

External committees

Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board (2011-2017) for the 'Center for Excellence' grant (Generalization research in 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).

Ad Hoc and Deputy Chair of the BBSRC Committee A: Animal Systems, Health and Wellbeing (2009-2011).

Full member of the BBSRC Committee A: Animal Systems, Health and Wellbeing (2009-2011).

Full member of the BBSRC Animal Sciences Committee (from 2008).

Co-opted to the BBSRC Animal Sciences Committee (2007, 2008).

UK consultant for the BBSRC, ESRC, Leverhulme Trust, MRC and Wellcome Trust; and international consultant for the Austrian Science Foundation, Research Foundation Flanders, Israel Science Foundation, The German Israeli Foundation For Scientific Research and Development (G.I.F.), NIMH, NSF.

External appointments

Member of the Academic Reference Group for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services 2020.

Conference organization

Co-organizer, with John Pearce, of the Associative Learning Symposium at Gregynog, Wales (1997-2012).

Reviewing for journals

Animal Behaviour, Animal Cognition, Animal Learning & Behavior, Behavioural Brain Research, Behavioral Neuroscience, Behavioural Processes, Biological Psychiatry, Biology Letters, Brain Research Bulletin, Cognition, Technology & Work, Current Biology, Ergonomics, European Journal of Neuroscience, Experimental Brain Research, International Journal of Comparative Psychology, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 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 Memory, Learning and Motivation, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, PLOS ONE, Psychology, Crime & Law, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Sections A and B), Proceedings of the Royal Society, Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, Psychology, Crime and Law, Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Review, Psychological Science, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Royal Society Open Science, Scientific Reports, Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

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National and international

BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2018; Overall Winner and Social Impact Winner for: Behavioural neuroscience underpins new guidance for firefighters and the emergency services.

New Process Award; Business and Education Partnership Awards; Insider Media (2017).

Raymond S. Nickerson Prize for the best paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.  Awarded in 2017 for: Cohen-Hatton, S.R., & Honey, R.C. (2015).  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21, 395-406.  The prize recognizes an article as having the potential for enduring impact in the area of applied experimental psychology.

Elected to Fellow of the Eastern Psychological Association (USA) in recognition of “achievement in psychology” 2010.

Experimental Psychology Society Prize 1999.


Cardiff University, Innovation & Impact Awards 2017; Innovation in Policy Award for Decision making in the UK fire and rescue service; with S. R. Cohen-Hatton, Philip Butler and CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association). Also received the ‘People’s Choice’ and overall winner at the Awards.

Cardiff University, Inaugural 3Rs Poster Prize Winner 2015; Annual Welfare and Research Symposium; for Increasing experimental power by reducing interfering behaviour: Sign-tracking points the way to refinement and reduction; with E. Patitucci, A. Nelson, and D.M. Dwyer.

University of York, Kathleen Stott Prize for DPhil dissertation 1988.

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Postgraduate research interests

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.  These include the Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratories, CUBRIC, and The Simulation Lab for the Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Human-Machine Systems (IROHMS).

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

Current students

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

Byron Wilkinson. Understanding how groups make strategic decisions in emergencies.  School of Psychology Studentship.

Holly Kings.  Optimising closed-loop stimulation of slow wave sleep.  BBSRC SWBio Case Studentship.

Paula Riella.  Evaluation of a resilience intervention for the police.  Funded through the Gwent Police.