Brain mechanisms underlying learning and cognition, neural substrates underlying executive function, animal models of schizophrenia, schizophrenia.
Field of Research (FoR)
Professor Simon Killcross’ main areas of research interest concern brain mechanisms underlying learning and cognition. He is Head of the School of Psychology at UNSW. After gaining his UG degrees and PhD from the University Cambridge, he was a research Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge until 1996 when he took up a lectureship in Psychology at the University of York. He moved to a Senior Research Fellowship in the...view more
Professor Simon Killcross’ main areas of research interest concern brain mechanisms underlying learning and cognition. He is Head of the School of Psychology at UNSW. After gaining his UG degrees and PhD from the University Cambridge, he was a research Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge until 1996 when he took up a lectureship in Psychology at the University of York. He moved to a Senior Research Fellowship in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University in 1999, where he was subseqently promoted to Reader, Professor, and then served as Deputy Head of School from 2006. In 2009 he moved to take up his current position as Professor and Head of the School of Psychology at UNSW Australia. He was reappointed for a second term in 2014.
- BA, MA, PhD (Cantab)
Research in Detail
Simon’s main areas of interest concern brain mechanisms underlying learning and cognition. One focus of research is the neural substrates underlying executive function, particularly with reference to animal models of schizophrenia. The approach taken is to use well-defined behavioural procedures drawn from current associative learning theory, as well as novel behavioural paradigms, to allow the systematic investigation of the role played by different brain systems in the executive control of cognition and behaviour, with the intention of informing not only psychopharmacological research on putative treatments for mental disorders such as schizophrenia, but also current theories about the interaction of different systems in the higher level control of cognitive function. As such, many areas that touch on on the role of fronto-striatal systems in the control of behaviour are of interest, including projects on addiction, decision making and gambling. Simon also does research applying these findings in a translational manner to patient populations (mostly schizophrenia) and to studies of the broader schizotypic phenotype in the general population.
Recent Research Grants:
International and National Competition:
- 2013 -2015 ARC Discovery grant: Neural substrates of higher-order conditioned fear. (CI, Prof RF Westbrook) $314,000
- 2012-2014 ARC Discovery grant: Uncertainty and response control in the prefrontal cortex. $336,000
- 2012-2014 NHMRC project grant: Neuronal substrate of choice in the rat whisker system. (Co-CIs, Arabzadeh, Westbrook) $408,510
- 2010-2013 NHMRC project grant: Methamphetamine-induced habits and the re-establishment of behavioural control. (Co-CI, Prof BW Balleine) $556,500
- 2010-2013 ARC Discovery grant: Latent inhibition: behavioural characteristics and neural substrates. (CI, Prof RF Westbrook) $409,701
- 2009-2012 NHMRC project grant: The neurochemical basis of behavioural control: relevance for addicition, OCD and Tourette syndrome. $360,375
- 2009-2012 ARC Discovery grant: The role of the prefrontal cortex in responding to a changing world. $280,000
- 2006-2009 BBSRC project grant: Actions and habits: The relation between cognitive control and behavioural autonomy. £434,803
- 2006-2007 Tourette Syndrome Association: Animal models of TS and habit formation. $75,000
- 2004-2007 BBSRC IABB Initiative grant: The hippocampal formation - an examination and integration of spatial and non-spatial functions. Co-Is: R. Honey, M. Good (Cardiff), and K. Jeffery, N. Burgess (UCL). £701,879
Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)
2012-2016 Phillip Green, School of Psychology, UNSW.
2011-2015 Helena Pacitti, School of Psychology, UNSW.
2011-2015 Stephanie Roughly, School of Psychology, UNSW.
2010-2014 Marios Panayi, School of Psychology, UNSW.
2010-2014 Melissa Sharpe, School of Psychology, UNSW.
Lisa Sato, Elise Hawke
Contact Professor Killcross to find out more about his supervision opportunities.
Advice for prospective students
Psychology is one of the most interesting and challenging areas of scientific enquiry with the potential to benefit both individuals and society as a whole
AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS
Awards and Scholarships:
- 2001/2 UK Experimental Psychology Society Prize lecturer award. For outstanding contributions to Experimental Psychology
- 1999 British Psychological Society Spearman Medal winner. For published work of outstanding scientific merit
- 1997 SmithKline Beecham & British Association for Psychopharmacology, Young Psychopharmacologist of the Year Prize