School of Psychology

University of Sussex

[email protected]

I’m a cognitive scientist based at the University of Sussex. My work spans neuroscience, experimental psychology, and philosophy and I try to investigate problems at multiple levels and from multiple perspectives.

My primary research interests are in the tools that cognitive scientists use, including the conceptual, statistical, and computational tools. Specifically, I’m interested in the conceptual foundations of cognitive science including notions of representation and computation and how these relate to the kinds of explanations offered by the cognitive sciences (e.g., see Colling & Roberts, 2009; Colling & Williamson, 2014; Williams & Colling, 2018). I also have an interest in the statistical tools used in psychological science and cognitive science. Specifically, I am interested in notions of evidence and debates between the frequentists and Bayesians (see Lakens,…Colling,… et al, 2018; Colling & Szűcs, 2019). More recently, I have also developed an interest in exploring the intersection between machine learning, philosophy of neuroscience, and empirical neuroscience (see Williams & Colling, 2018). This includes an interest in how neuroscientists use machine learning as a tool, how machine learning analyses align with the explanatory goals in neuroscience and the relationship between explanations in neuroscience and cognitive science. I am also interested in using the conceptual tools from philosophy of science and the social cognition literature to understand explanation in ML/AI, and to explore notions of trust and transparency in AI/ML.

My empirical work often serves as the context for my theoretical work. For example, I have conducted a number of studies of joint action and action prediction (see Colling, Thompson & Sutton, 2014, 2016) and this has informed my theoretical work in social cognition and allowed me to explore questions about the nature of the representations that support social interaction (e.g., Colling, Knoblich & Sebanz, 2013; Colling, 2019; Colling & Williamson, 2014). More recently, I have also conducted developmental studies which have allowed me to explore how complex cognitive capacities are built up through development (Colling, Noble, Goswami, 2017; Power, Colling, Mead, Barnes, Goswami, 2016), and my studies in numerical cognition have allowed me to explore notions of embodied representations (e.g., Colling et al 2020).


Before the University of Sussex, I held research positions at the University of Cambridge, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and Its Disorders at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia), and the Donders Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognition at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands). I also held a lectureship in the School of Psychology at the Australian Catholic University (Brisbane, Australia).

I completed my PhD, titled Predicting the Actions of Other Agents, in 2012 in the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University, where I was affiliated with the Collective Cognition Research Group, the Perception and Action Research Centre, and the Music, Sound, and Performance Laboratory. Before this, I completed my Bachelor and Master of Science degree in the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland.