My main interest is in associative learning, a process that seems to be designed to let us learn about the causal structure of the world around us, allowing us to predict and control our environment. It is clear that this type of learning is important for the most basic aspects of our daily life, and it is found throughout the animal kingdom. Some psychologists also argue that networks of associations might underlie more complex types of learning in human subjects, such as concept formation and language. If this view is correct, then it is important for us to have a thorough understanding of associative processes and the limits of what they can explain. My research is (paradoxically) mainly concerned with types of learning that are assumed not to be easily explained in terms of association formation: the aim is to examine whether modifications of associative theory could allow it to accommodate these apparently nonassociative phenomena. My previous and current work addresses the following topics:
Hippocampus and learning
When learning goes wrong: Alzheimer's disease and Schizophrenia
Learning and Addiction
Timing: When a stimulus of a particular duration (e.g. 20 seconds) predicts a particular outcome, association formation allows learning that the stimulus predicts the outcome - but not learning when (i.e. outcome will occur 20 seconds after stimulus onset). Learning about time in this way does occur, but most associative theories cannot easily explain it, and make relatively few predictions about the effects of the temporal characteristics of cues on associative learning phenomena. In a collaboration with Dr Dómhnall Jennings (University of Newcastle), we are investigating the way in which associative theories can represent temporal cues, with a view to developing an associative account of timing effects. We are also, in collaboration with Dr Eduardo Alonso (City University) and Dr Esther Mondragón (Centre for Computational and Animal Learning Research), using simulations to evaluate whether our findings can be accommodated by associative theories.
Hippocampus and learning: Damage to the hippocampus produces a complex range of cognitive deficits, for example in spatial learning; however, association formation is usually said to be intact, implying that associative learning does not underly the skills that are affected by hippocampal damage. However, our recent work suggests that certain sorts of associative learning can be impaired after hippocampal damage, implying that an associative learning impairment could mediate the effects if hippocampal damage on, for example, spatial learning. We aim to investigate those aspects of associative learning that are impaired by hippocampal damage, and the extent to which this can explain the other, more complex effects of such damage (p conducted with Dr Eric Tam, now at the University of Oxford).
When learning goes wrong Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia: In some conditions learning is impaired, and we can use what we know about associative theory to analyse these deficits. For example, schizophrenia is often characterised by high impulsivity, which might be evident as a deficit in inhibitory learning; in a collaboration with Dr Helen Cassaday we confirmed this possibility (work conducted with Dr Zhimin He); related effects were observed in participants with certain types of personality disorder associated with impulsivity deficits. Schizophrenia is also said to be characterised by a deficit in performance on tasks employing task-setting cues - which are formally equivalent to conditional cues (see above); this leads to the question whether such deficits are also evident in subjects with high schizotypy. Finally, Alzheimer's disease is characterised by a wide range of cognitive impairments, and yet many of these have not been precisely characterised in associative terms. In collaboration with Dr Marie-Christine Pardon (School of Biomedical Sciences) and Mr Paul Armstrong, I am currently conducting a series of studies whose long term aim is to analyse the cognitive deficits in a genetically modified strain of mouse that is regarded as a translational model of Alzheimer's disease, and examine their underlying neurobiological correlates.
Learning and Addiction:
Human drug seeking has been analysed in terms of classical
conditioning: the ability of environmental cues to become associated
with the effects of the drug can make them provoke drug-seeking
behaviour. The mechanism underlying this process has been modelled by
an effect called Pavlovian-instrumental transfer (PIT): if you have two
outcomes, chocolate and tobacco, each produced by a different
(drug-seeking response), then a conditioned stimulus that signals e.g.
chocolate, will increase the level of the chocolate-seeking response
more than the tobacco-seeking response (and vv). However, there is
still relatively little understanding of how this effect is mediated,
and this project would address this.
1978-1982 Cambridge BA Hons (Natural Sciences)
1982-1986 CambridgePhD (Experimental Psychology)
1986-2004 University of York, Research Fellow
2004 - 2007 University of Nottingham, Lecturer
2007 University of Nottingham, Senior Lecturer
1986-1989 SERC Grant. Discriminative inhibition in associative learning
1990-199 SERC Grant. An analysis of modulatory stimulus function
1993-1996 SERC Grant Mechanisms of conditional learning: Formation of occasion setters and implications of acquired equivalence
1997-2000 BBSRC Grant A study of the associative mechanisms underlying conditional learning2004-2007 BBSRC Grant. A test of a hierarchical account of conditional learning
2008-2011 BBSRC grant in collaboration with Dr Dómhnall Jennings (University of Newcastle) Towards an Integrated associative theory of conditioning and timing.
Some of the documents listed below are available for downloading. These documents have been provided as a means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work on a noncommercial basis. Copyright and all rights therein are maintained by the authors or by other copyright holders, notwithstanding that the works have been made available electronically. It is understood that all persons will adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be re-posted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.
Bonardi, C. (1988a). Associative explanations of discriminative inhibition effects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 40B, 63-82.pdf
Bonardi, C., & Ward-Robinson, J. (2001). Occasion setters: Specificity to the US and the CS-US association. Learning and Motivation, 32, 349-366.pdfBonardi, C. (2001). Dorsal hippocampal lesions impair appetitive classical conditioning to localized cues. European Journal of Neuroscience, 13, 1435-1443. pdf
Bonardi, C., & Ong, S.Y. (2003). Learned irrelevance: a contemporary overview. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 56B, 80-89.pdf
Mondragón, E., Bonardi, C., & Hall, G. (2003). Negative priming and occasion setting in an appetitive Pavlovian procedure. Learning and Behavior, 31, 281-291.pdf
Blair, C.A.J., Bonardi, C., & Hall, G. (2004). Differential effects of 8-OH-DPAT on two forms of appetitive Pavlovian conditioning in the rat. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118, 1439-1443.pdf
Bonardi, C., Graham, S., Hall, G., & Mitchell C. (2005). Acquired distinctiveness and equivalence in human discrimination learning: Evidence for an attentional process. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 88-92. pdf
Bonardi., C., Hall., G., & Ong, S. Y. (2005). Analysis of the learned irrelevance effect in appetitive Pavlovian conditioning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology B, 58B, 141-162.pdf
Dunn, M., Futter, D., Bonardi, C., & Killcross, A.S. (2005). Attenuation of D-amphetamine-induced disruption of conditional discrimination performance by alpha-flupenthixol. Psychopharmacology, 177, 296-306. pdf
Bonardi, C. (2007). Occasion setting is specific to the CS-US association. Learning and Motivation, 38, 208-228.pdf
Jennings, D., Alonso, E., Mondragón, E., & Bonardi, C. (2006). Temporal Uncertainty during overshadowing. Proceedings of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour: Adaptation in Artificial and Biological Systems. (T. Kovacs & A.R. Marshall, Eds.): University of Bristol.
Bonardi, C., & Jennings, D. (2007). Occasion setting of timing behaviour. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 33, 339-348.pdf
Jennings, D., Bonardi, C., & Kirkpatrick, K, (2007). Stimulus duration effects in overshadowing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 33, 464-475.pdf
Bonardi, C., & Jennings, D. (2009). Learning about associations: Evidence for a hierarchical account of occasion setting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 440-445.pdf
Bonardi, C., Bartle, C., Bowles, K., de Pulford, F., & Jennings, D.J. (2010) Some appetitive procedures for examining associative learning in the mouse: Implications for psychopathology. Behavioural Brain Research, 211, 240-247.pdf
Jennings, D.J., Alonso, E., Mondragón, E. & Bonardi, C. (2011). Temporal uncertainty during overshadowing: A temporal difference approach. In E. Alonso and E. Mondragón (Eds.). Computational Neuroscience for Advancing Artificial Intelligence: Models, Methods and Applications. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. pdf
Bonardi, C., de Pulford, F., Jennings, D., & Pardon, M-C. (2011). A detailed analysis of the early context extinction deficits seen in APPswe/PS1dE9 female mice and their relevance to pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease. Behavioural Brain Research, 222, 89-97.pdf
He, Z., Cassaday, H.J., Howard, R.C., Khalifa, N., & Bonardi, C. (2012) The normal inhibition of stimulus-stimulus associations is impaired in personality disorder. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 2334-2351 pdf
Tam, S.K.E., & Bonardi, C. (2012a). Dorsal hippocampal involvement in appetitive trace conditioning and interval timing Behavioural Neuroscience 126, 258-269.pdf
Tam, S.K.E. & Bonardi, C. (2012b). Dorsal hippocampal lesions disrupt Pavlovian delay conditioning and conditioned-response timing. Behavioural Brain Research, 230, 259-267.pdf
Bonardi, C., Bartle, C., & Jennings, D. (2012). US specificity of occasion setting: Hierarchical of configural learning? Behavioural Processes, 90, 311-322.pdf
He, Z., Cassaday, H.J., Park, S.B.G, & Bonardi, C. (2012) When to hold that thought: Reduced inhibition of pre-potent associations in schizophrenia Plosone, 7, 1-9. pdf
Jennings, D., Alonso, E., Mondragòn, E., Franssen, M., & Bonardi, C. (2013). The effect of stimulus distribution form on the acquisition and rate of conditioned responding: Implications for theory Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 39, 233-248.pdf
Zhimin He, Helen J. Cassaday, Charlotte Bonardi & Peter A. Bibby. (2013). Do personality traits predict individual differences in excitatory and inhibitory learning? Frontiers in Psychology: Personality Science and Individual Differences, 4, 245.pdf
Tam., S.K.E., Jennings, D.J., & Bonardi, C. (2013) Dorsal hippocampal involvement in conditioned-response timing and maintenance of temporal information in the absence of the CS. Experimental Brain Research, 227, 547-559.pdf
Tam, S.K.E., Robinson, J. J., Jennings, D. , & Bonardi, C. (2014). Dissociations in the effect of delay on object recognition and the effect of dorsal hippocampal damage: Evidence for an associative model of recognition memory Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 40, 106-115. pdf
Mondragòn, E., Gray, J., Alonso, E., Bonardi, C., & Jennings, D. (2014). SSCC TD: A Serial and Simultaneous Configural-Cue Compound Stimuli Representation for Temporal Difference Learning. PlosOne, 9, e102469. pdfBonardi, C., Mondragón, E.,Brilot, B., & Jennings, D.J. (2015). Overshadowing by fixed and variable duration stimuli. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68, 523-542.
Tam, S.K.E., Jennings, D. , & Bonardi, C. (2015). Effects of Dorsal Hippocampal Damage on Conditioning and Conditioned-response Timing: A Pooled Analysis. Hippocampus, 25, 444-459.
Robinson, J., & Bonardi, C. (2015). An Associative Analysis of Object Memory. Behavioural Brain Research, 285, 1-9.
Tam, S.K.E., Bonardi, C., & Robinson, J. (2015). Relative Recency in Object-In-Context Memory Behavioural Brain Research, 281, 250-257.
I teach a part of the first year module on Addiction (C81ADD) second year module on Neuroscience and Behaviour (C82NAB), take some second year practical classes (C82MPR) and, along with Drs Tobias Bast, Mark Haselgrove and Jasper Ward-Robinson, teach a third year module Mechanisms in Learning and Psychopathology, which covers clinical issues and their relation to learning theory, and neuroscientific research aimed at analysing, and identifying the locus of, various associative processes (C83MLP). I also give a lecture on the use of animals in research for the Advanced Research Methods course (C8DAMS).PROJECTS I am happy to supervise projects in any general area of associative learning - if you are interested, get in touch!
I would be delighted to hear from you if you think you might be interested in studying for a PhD on anything related to my interests!
Charlotte Bonardi (Senior Lecturer)
School of Psychology
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham NG7 2RD
tel: +44 (0)115 84 67927
fax: +44 (0)115 95 15324
HTML: Lee Melton
School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK
Tel: +44 115-951-5361, Fax: +44 115-951-5324