Richard Passingham

Emeritus Fellow


Dick Passingham was elected a Tutorial Fellow of Psychology at Wadham College in 1976.

An undergraduate at Balliol College, studying Psychology and Philosophy, he then trained in clinical psychology in London before doing a Ph.D there in cognitive neuroscience. He returned to the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford in 1970 and worked as a postdoc for 5 years before being made a University Lecturer in Psychology in 1976.

For some years he taught cognitive neuroscience and animal behaviour in the Department and tutored in psychology and human sciences at Wadham. He later concentrated on teaching cognitive neuroscience at undergraduate and graduate level in the Department, tutoring in neuroscience subjects in College.

His research has been on the mechanisms of decision making and motor learning in the brain. He has worked with non-human primates as well as with patients with neurological disorders. Dick was amongst the first in the UK to use functional brain imaging to study the human brain, initially with positron emission tomography at the MRC Cyclotron Unit at the Hammersmith Hospital and then with functional magnetic brain imaging at the Functional Imaging Laboratory in Queen Square, London, now the Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience. He was also amongst the first in the UK to use transcranial magnetic brain stimulation to intervene in brain activity in healthy human subjects.

He was made an ad hominem Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience in 1993 and a Professor in 1997.  He is an Honorary Principal at the Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience, London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008.

Selected Publications

Passingham RE, Bengtsson S, Lau HC (2010) Medial frontal cortex: from self-generated action to reflection on one’s own performance Trends in Cogn Sci., 14, 16-21

Persaud N, Davidson M, Maniscalco B, Mobbs D, Passingham RE, Cowey A, Lau HC (2011) Awareness-related activity in prefrontal and parietal cortices in blindsight reflects more than superior visual performance. NeuroImage 58, 605- 611

Stout D, Passingham RE, Frith C, Apel J, Chaminade T (2011) Technology, expertise and social cognition in human evolution. Europ J Neurosci 33, 1328-1338

Passingham RE, Rowe JB, Sakai K (2013) Has brain imaging told us anything new about how the brain works? NeuroImage 66, 142-150

The Human Primate (1982, Freeman)
The Frontal Lobes and Voluntary Action (1993, OUP)
What is Special about the Human Brain? (2008, OUP)
The Neurobiology of Prefrontal Cortex (2012, OUP)