John Damien Lecture Series

The John Damien Lecture is an annual public lecture established by Psychology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, to present researchers of international standing who have made a significant contribution to our discipline.

2017 John Damien Lecture


Friday 13th October, at 6:30 pm; Logie Lecture Theatre, University of Stirling



John Damien 2017 speaker 

Psychology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, is pleased to invite you to the 2017 John Damien Lecture.  The lecture will be given by an eminent psychologist, Professor John O'Keefe.


In this lecture I will describe and compare how we used 2 different strategies to find our way around the world, maps and routes. We now have considerable information about the mapping strategy and believe we understand how the brain constructs these cognitive  maps of an environment and how they enable us to know where we are, to locate objects in the environment, and to navigate from one place to another by any available means. The cognitive mapping system is contained in a part of the brain called the hippocampal formation and consists of a set of cells which represent places , and the distances and directions between those places. The hippocampal formation is one of the first areas in the brain affected Alzheimer’s disease and our understanding of the function of this part of the brain in animals and humans may help us to identify the underlying pathologies in this disease.



UCL SLMS' John O’Keefe has won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014 for discovering an ‘inner GPS’ in the brain. 

Throughout his career, O'Keefe has studied the hippocampus and its role in spatial memory and navigation, the loss of which is prominent in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. His research has shown how networks of hippocampal neurons are involved in determining an animal’s location in the environment. 

Born in New York City, John O'Keefe received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York. He went on to study for his doctoral degree in physiological psychology with Ronald Melzack in Donald O. Hebb's department at McGill University in Montreal, awarded in 1967. He then worked as a US National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow at University College London in the laboratory of Patrick Wall.

He is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at University College London. In June 2013 he was appointed as the Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits & Behaviour at UCL.

Previous Lectures

2017 Professor John O'Keefe
Title Pending
Audio Link available soon.
2016 Professor Dorothy Bishop
Language, Sex Chromosomes and Autism: Unravelling the Mystery
Audio Link available here
2015 Professor Vicki Bruce
Face Fallacies
Audio Link available here
2014 Professor Glyn Humphreys
The Biased Self?
Audio Link available here
2013 Professor Rory O'Connor
Understanding the Suicidal Mind: Insights from Psychological Science.
Audio Link available here
2011 Professor Richard Wiseman The Luck Factor.
2010 Professor Martin Conway
Autobiographical memories in health and in illness.
Audio Link available here
2009 Professor Richard Dawkins
Darwin's Five Bridges.
Audio Link available here
2008 Professor Uta Frith What autism teaches us about social cognition.
2007 Professor Nick Humphrey The Necessity of Consciousness: why human zombies would be an evolutionary dead end.
2006 Professor Elizabeth Loftus Illusions of Memory.


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