Paul Wilson

Professor Paul Wilson

Professor of Psychology

Faculty of Health Sciences

School of Life Sciences

(0)1482 466931

Paul Wilson researches the basic learning mechanisms which are common to people and other animals.

Chief among these are associative and spatial learning - understanding how we acquire knowledge about the causal and spatial structure of the world is fundamental to all learning.

These interests developed from his PhD at the University of Sussex.


Research Interests

  • Associative and causal learning

  • Spatial learning

Research groups

  • Member of the Cognition and Neuroscience research group


Wilson, P. N. & Alexander, T. (2010) 'Enclosure shape influences cue competition effects and goal location learning', Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1552-1567

Alexander, T., Wilson, S. P., Wilson, P. N. (2009) 'Blocking of goal-location learning based on shape', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 35(3), 694-708

Wilson, P. N. & Alexander, T. (2008) 'Blocking of spatial learning between enclosure geometry and a local landmark', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 34(6), 1369-1376

Wildbur, D. J. & Wilson, P. N. (2008) 'Influences on the first-perspective alignment effect from text route-descriptions', Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 763-783


Programmes taught on

Modules list

  • Brain and Behaviour 1

  • Brain and Behaviour 2

  • Learning in Humans, Animals and Androids

  • Final year research project

Research PhDs

Prof Wilson welcomes applications to investigate spatial learning, associative learning, and computer gaming.

Completed PhDs

  • Michael Tlauka, Spatial learning in computer-simulated environments (1995). Now Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

  • Danaë Stanton Fraser, Enhancing spatial cognition in disabled children using virtual environments (1997). Now Professor in Human Computer Interaction at the University of Bath

  • Diane Wildbur, The first-perspective alignment effect: Spatial memories from verbal descriptions, virtual environments and object arrays (2004). Now Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester.

  • Tim Alexander, Cue competition between shapes in human spatial learning (2009). Now a research co-ordinator at the University of Hull.

  • Pelham Carter, Interactions between sources of alignment in human spatial learning (2012). Now Senior Lecturer in Cyberpsychology at Birmingham City University.

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BA, Manchester Metropolitan University

  • PhD, University of Sussex

External roles

  • Member of the Experimental Psychology Society

Awards and accolades

Research income

  • £136,182, September 2005 – September 2008. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. ‘Cognitive Systems Foresight: Cue-competition effects during spatial learning in computer-generated environments’. Sole applicant.

  • $5,570 (AUD), August 2007 (approx. £2,330) under the Area of Strategic Research Investment (ASRI) in Applied Cognitive Psychology administered by Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. To support a visit to Flinders University to promote research collaborations with Dr Michael Tlauka.

  • £48,431, October 2000 – March 2002. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. ‘Orientation dependent memories and the first experienced perspective’. Sole applicant.

  • £87,124, March 1999-Feb 2002. Awarded by SCOPE, underwritten by British Telecom. ‘Spatial awareness of complex public environments. VR training in two user groups: disabled children, and mobility-impaired adults’. (With N Foreman and D Stanton).

  • £3,000, August, 1998. Awarded by NATO International Scientific Exchange Programmes. ‘Computer-simulated environments: Interactivity and optimal modes of presentation of spatial information’. (With P. Péruch, Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences Cognitives (CNRS) Marseille, France).

  • £9,982, January 1997. Awarded by Action Research. ‘The use of virtual reality computer environments to improve spatial awareness in disabled children’. (Continuation. With N Foreman,).

  • £65,803, January 1994. Awarded by Action Research. ‘The use of virtual reality computer environments to improve spatial awareness in disabled children’. (With N Foreman).

  • £9,500, September 1993. 12000 ECU awarded by COMETT (European Community Fund) to set up transnational courses in three-dimensional computer simulation (Virtual Environments).