William Roberts

Dr. William Roberts

Professor Emeritus - Cognitive, Developmental, and Brain Sciences

Email: roberts@uwo.ca
Office: SSC 7310
Tel: 519-661-2111 ext. 84686

  • Bio

  • Publications

  • Research

Biographical Information

Dr. Bill Roberts has been a professor at the University of Western Ontario for more than 40 years, with more than 100 journal publications.  He has been editor of the journal Learning and Motivation since 2000, and is a Fellow of both Division 3 (Experimental Psychology) and Division 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  

In 2005 Dr. Roberts received the International Conference on Comparative Cognition Research Award in honour of his outstanding contributions to the study of animal cognition.  

Dr. Roberts was conferred Professor Emeritus status in 2004 and maintains an active lab and publishing career.

B.Sc. - University of Maryland, 1960
M.A. - Bryn Mawr College, 1962
Ph.D. - Bryn Mawr College, 1965

Selected Publications

McMillan, N., Kirk, C. R. & Roberts, W. A. (in press). Pigeon and rat performance in the midsession reversal procedure depends upon cue dimensionality. Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Kirk, C. R., McMillan, N., & Roberts, W. A. (in press). Rats respond for information: Metacognition in a rodent? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning & Cognition.

Macpherson, K. & Roberts, W. A. (2013). Can dogs count? Learning & Motivation, 44, 241-251.

McMillan, N. & Roberts, W. A. (2013a). Interval timing under variations in the relative validity of temporal cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 39, 334-341.

McMillan, N. & Roberts, W. A. (2013b). Pigeons rank-order responses to temporally sequential stimuli. Learning & Behavior, 41, 309-318.

McMillan, N. & Roberts, W. A. (2012). Pigeons make errors due to timing in a visual, but not visual-spatial, mid-session reversal task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 38, 440-445.

Roberts, W. A., McMillan, N., Musolino, E., & Cole, M. (2012). Information-seeking in animals: Metacognition? Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, 7, 85-109.

Roberts, W. A., & Macpherson, K.  (2011).  Theory of mind in dogs: Is the perspective-taking task a good test?  Learning & Behavior, 39, 303-305.

Feeney, M. C., Roberts, W. A., & Sherry, D. F. (2011).  Mechanisms of what-were-when memory in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus): Do chickadees remember “when”?  Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125, 308-316.

Feeney, M. C., Roberts, W. A., & Sherry, D. F. (2011).  Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) anticipate future outcomes of foraging choices.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 37, 30-40.

McMahon, S., Macpherson, K., & Roberts, W. A. (2010).  Dogs choose a human informant: Metacognition in canines.  Behavioural Processes, 85, 293-298.

Roberts, W. A. (2010).  “Counting” serially presented stimuli by human and nonhuman primates and pigeons.  Learning and Motivation, 41, 241-251.

Roberts, W. A. (2010). Distance and magnitude effects in sequential number discrimination by pigeons. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 206-216.

McMillan, N. & Roberts, W. A. (2010). The effects of cue competition on timing in pigeons. Behavioural Processes, 84, 581-590.

Macpherson, K., & Roberts, W. A. (2010).  Spatial memory in dogs (Canis familiaris) on a radial maze.  Journal of Comparative Psychology, 124, 47-56.

Roberts, W. A., & Feeney, M. C. (2010).  Temporal sequencing is essential to future planning: Response to Osvath, Raby and Clayton.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 52-53.

Feeney, M. C., & Roberts, W. A. (2009).  Memory for what, where, and when in the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus).  Animal Cognition, 12, 767-777.

Petter, M., Musolino, E., Roberts, W. A., & Cole, M.  (2009).  Can dogs (Canis familiaris) detect human deception?  Behavioural Processes, 82, 109-118.

Roberts, W. A., & Feeney, M. C. (2009).  The comparative study of mental time travel.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 271-277.

Feeney, M. C., Roberts, W. A., & Sherry, D. F. (2009).  Memory for what, where, and when in the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus).  Animal Cognition, 12, 767-777.

Roberts, W. A., Feeney, M. C., McMillan, N., Macpherson, K., & Musolino, E. (2009). Do pigeons study for a test? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 129-142.

Roberts, W. A., Feeney, M. C., Macpherson, K., Petter, M., McMillan, N., & Musolino, E. (2008). Episodic-like memory in rats: Is it based on when or how long ago? Science, 320, 113-115.

Feeney, M. C., & Roberts, W. A. (2008).  Rats show preference for delayed rewards on the radial maze.  Learning & Behavior, 36, 42-54.

Roberts, W. A. (2007).  Mental time travel: Animals anticipate the future.  Current Biology, 17, 418-420.

Naqshbandi, M., Feeney, M. C., McKenzie, T. L. B., & Roberts, W. A. (2007).  Testing for episodic-like memory in rats in the absence of time of day cues: Replication of Babb and Crystal.  Behavioural Processes, 74, 217-225.

Research

Previous research in the laboratory has involved investigations of spatial memory representation, concept learning, timing and numerical processing, and cognitive time travel in rats, pigeons, and squirrel monkeys. Some specific projects concerned an investigation of how pigeons bisect a number scale, testing for cognitive spatial displacement in rats, rats' memory for hoarded food items, the basis of pictorial concept formation in pigeons, and studies of squirrel monkeys' ability to anticipate future events.

More recently, we have been focused on looking at information-seeking in rats and pigeons, timing and choice behaviour in pigeons, episodic-like (what, where, when) memory in rats and chickadees, and a number of cognitive functions in domestic dogs.  We operate a number of mazes and operant boxes for lab research.  All dog research is performed off-site at partnered dog school facilities with owner-volunteered dogs.