Philip Quinlan
Senior Lecturer



  • Hatfield Polytechnic
  • Dundee University
  • Birkbeck College, University of London

Graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic and then carried out postgraduate work in Artificial Intelligence at Dundee University. Several research posts at Birkbeck College lead to a Ph.D. and, finally, a Lectureship in Cognitive Science. Moved to R.H.B.N.C. (now Royal Holloway, London) and then on to present position in York.

Has wide interests in cognition, perception and attention. Currently engaged in experimental studies of attentional control in the visual and auditory modalities, threat detection, and visual short-term memory. Maintains an interest in psychological aspects of neural networks.

Departmental roles

I am currently the Academic Chair of the Departmental IT Strategy Group.



My interests are quite wide - cognition, perception, attention. Mostly, I have worked in the general areas of visual and auditory cognition with special reference to attentional control.

More recently I have been drawn to the study of visual short-term memory and separately, visual threat detection.

Research group(s)

  • Perception and Action


Some of my research has been attracted funding from various Research Councils over the years - SRC, ESRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC.


I am constantly bothering Ben Dyson and he seems happy to tolerate the odd rant over Skype.

I am also currently engaged with some work on VSTM with Dale Cohen of The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Dale has published some really neat stuff on visual processing and some equally smart stuff on numerical cognition. Check this out. 

Available PhD research projects

Keen to hear from potential graduate students who share my interests in human information processing.



I am supervising

Yue Yue on a project concerning the detection and identification of visual threats

Recently completed

Jacqueline Berry - Visual search for designated threat objects, effective training of X-ray security screeners, funded in part by QinetiQ and the Department for Transport

Nikolaos Andreadis - Differences between predictable and unpredictable task switching

Former students

  • Geoff Patching - Lund University, Sweden
  • Ben Dyson - Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
  • Falk Huettig - Ghent University
  • Nikos Andreadis - University of Athens Medical School


Selected publications

Here is a sample of some recent efforts:-

Quinlan, P. T. (in press). Misuse of power: in defense of small-scale science. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Plant, R. R., & Quinlan, P. T. (in press). Could millisecond timing errors in commonly used equipment be a cause of replication failure in some neuroscience studies? Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience.

Quinlan, P. T. (in press). The visual detection of threat: A cautionary tale. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Quinlan, P. T. (2012). Marr’s Vision 30 year on: From a personal point of view. Perception, 41, 1009-1012.

Quinlan, P. T. & Cohen, D. J. (2012). Grouping and binding in visual short-term memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 38, 1432-1438. 

Clelland, A. A., Tamminen, J., Quinlan, P. T., & Gaskell, M. G. (2012). Spoken word processing creates a lexical bottleneck. Language and Cognitive Processes, 27, 572-593.

Quinlan, P. T., & Johnson, D. P. (2011). The effect of inducing panic search on the detection of fear-relevant and neutral images. Visual Cognition, 19, 762-784.

Quinlan, P. T. & Cohen, D. J. (2011). Object-based representations govern both the storage of information in visual short-term memory and the retrieval of information from it. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 316-323.

Millman, R. E., Woods, W. P., Quinlan, P. T. (2011). Functional asymmetries in the representation of noise-vocoded speech. NeuroImage, 54, 2364-2373.





Full publications list

Here is a more extensive (not exhaustive) list of my publications :-

Humphreys, G. W., Besner, D., & Quinlan, P. T. (l988). Event perception and the word repetition effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 117, 51-67.

Humphreys, G. W., & Quinlan, P. T. (l988). Priming effects between two-dimensional shapes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 203-220.

Humphreys, G. W., Riddoch, M. J., & Quinlan, P. T. (l988). Cascade processes in picture naming. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 5, 67-103.

Humphreys, G. W., Quinlan, P. T., & Riddoch, M. J. (1989). Grouping processes in visual search: Effects with single- and combined feature targets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 258-279.

Humphreys, G. W., Evett, L. J., & Quinlan, P. T. (1990). The orthographic description in visual word processing. Cognitive Psychology, 22, 517-560.

Quinlan, P. T. (1991). Differing approaches to two-dimensional shape recognition.  Psychological Bulletin, 109, 224-241.

Morrison, C. M., Ellis, A. W., & Quinlan, P. T. (1992). Age of acquisition, not word frequency, affects object naming, not object recognition. Memory & Cognition, 20, 705-714.

Quinlan, P. T. & Wilton, R. N. (1998). Grouping by proximity or similarity?: Competition between the Gestalt principles in vision. Perception, 27, 417-430.

Quinlan, P. T. (1998). Structural change and development in real and artificial neural networks. Neural Networks, 11, 577-599.

Tipples, J., Young, A. W., Quinlan, P. T., Broks, P., & Ellis, A. W. (2002). Searching for threat. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55A, 1007-1026.

Dyson, B. J., & Quinlan, P. T. (2002). Within- and between-dimensions processing in the auditory modality. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28, 1483-1498.

Patching, G. R., & Quinlan, P. T. (2002). Garner and congruence effects in the speeded classification of bimodal signals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28, 755-775.

Quinlan, P. T. (2003) Visual Feature Integration Theory: Past, present and future. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 643-673.

Dyson, B. J., & Quinlan, P. T. (2004). Stimulus processing constraints in audition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 30, 1117-1131.

Clelland, A. A., Gaskell, M. G., Quinlan, P. T, & Tamminen, J. (2006). Frequency effects in spoken and visual word recognition: Evidence from dual-task methodologies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 32, 104-119.

Quinlan, P. T., van der Maas, H. L. J., Jansen, B. R. J., Booij, O, & Rendell, M. (2007). Re-thinking stages of cognitive development: An appraisal of connectionist models of the balance scale task. Cognition, 103, 413-459.

Gaskell, M. G., Quinlan, P. T., Tamminen, J., & Clelland, A. A. (2008). The nature of phoneme representation in spoken word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 282-302.

Andreadis, N., & Quinlan, P. T. (2010). Task switching under predictable and unpredictable circumstances. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 72, 1776-1790.

Dyson, B. J., & Quinlan, P. T. (2010). Decomposing the Garner paradigm: Evidence for dissociations between macro-level and micro-level performance. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 72, 1676-1691.

Stainthorp, R., Stuart, M., Powell, D., Quinlan, P. T., & Garwood, H. (2010). Visual processing deficits in children with slow RAN performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 266-292.

Quinlan, P. T. (2010). On the use of the term ‘attention’ (pp. 217-243). In Mitchell, C., & Le Pelley, M. (Eds.), Attention and associative learningFrom brain to behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


 Authored books

Quinlan, P. T. (1991). Connectionism and psychology: A psychological perspective on new connectionist research (293 pages). Hemel Hempstead, Herts.: Harvester Wheatsheaf and Chicago University Press. Italian edition, 1995, Bologna, il Mulino.

Quinlan, P. T. & Dyson, B. J. (2008). Cognitive psychology (706 pages). Pearson Education. [Amazon link here.]


Edited books

Quinlan, P. T. (Ed.). (2003). Connectionist models of development: Developmental processes in real and artificial neural networks. Hove and New York: Psychology Press. (386 pages). [Amazon link here.]


Special Edition of Perception.

I recently acted as Editor for a special edition of the journal Perception that marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Marr's Vision. [web link here.]



  • Cognition
  • Mind and Brain


Currently I contribute to the Generic Skills courses at Masters level

Other teaching

External activities


  • British Experimental Psychology Society
    Ordinary member (1987 - ), Committee Member 2011 -
  • Brain and Behavioral Sciences
    Associate (1988 - )
  • British Psychological Society
    Associate fellow, Chartered psychologist (1991 - )
Currently I serve as the EPS representative on the BPS Research Board.
  • Psychonomics Society
    Ordinary member (1999 - )
  • American Psychological Society
    Ordinary member (2003 - )


  • The Cognition (2007) paper was awarded the British Psychological Society Cognitive Psychology Section Award 2008.

Contact details

Dr Philip Quinlan
Senior lecturer
Department of Psychology
Room PS/B117

Tel: 01904 323135