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 Research Spotlight: Dave Brodbeck

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Research Spotlight 
Name:  Dave Brodbeck
Occupation : Psychologist
Before Grenfell :
Dr. Dave Brodbeck completed his undergraduate degree in psychology (BA Hons, 1988) at the University of Western Ontario in London and then went on graduate school at the University of Toronto. Dave worked in Sara Shettleworth's lab at U of T, completing his MA in 1989 and his PhD in 1993. Dave returned to UWO to do a postdoctoral fellowship with Bill Roberts from 1993 until 1996. In 1996 Dave joined the faculty at Algoma University College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Dave then joined the faculty of SWGC in September of 1998. 
Dave's research interests are in evolution and animal cognition. His current project 'Implicit Memory in Non Humans' focuses on pigeons' ability to remember details in pictures for long periods of time. This research program is funded by a four year, $48, 000.00 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. His 1997 paper 'Picture Fragment Completion: Priming in the Pigeon' is the first demonstration of perceptual priming in a non human. 
In 1998, Dave was nominated for an OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations) teaching award.
'Implicit Memory in Non Humans'
In contrast with the typical methodology with humans, in which separate tasks are used for study and test, priming in animal cognition has been demonstrated only in tasks with repeated presentation of similar or identical stimuli in the same task. This perceptual learning phenomenon is well documented using the "search image" paradigm. Tinbergen (1960) proposed that birds searching for cryptic prey form a search image, which was hypothesized to be a sieve type operation that allowed only certain information to be perceived. This image was said to be built up over numerous exposures to cryptic prey on a cryptic background (e.g., searching for grains of rice on a beach). Dave has attacked the problem of priming in animals by adapting tasks used with humans for use with non humans. Priming of implicit memory in humans involves non conscious memory (by definition). Dave had to develop a task that did not appeal to consciousness (as he says, "it is hard enough to prove a human is conscious, much less a pigeon.")

Dave has published a number of articles, on topics as varied as the neural basis of central place foraging in rats and human implicit memory. He has presented papers at more than 20 conferences, in French and English. He has given invited colloquia to the Psychology Department at MUN St. John's, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and to the Zoology Department at Oxford. Dave has also been interviewed on the local CBC radio morning show and occasionally answers questions for the Discovery Channel's website (

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