Michael Corballis

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Michael Charles Corballis ONZM (born 10 September 1936) is a psychologist and author. He is emeritus professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His fields of research are cognitive neuroscience, including visual perception, visual imagery, attention, memory and the evolution of language.


Private life

Michael Corballis is the son of Philip Patrick Joseph Corballis and Alice Elizabeth Harris. He was born in Marton, New Zealand in 1936. In 1962, he married Barbara Elizabeth Wheeler. They have two sons.

Education and career

Corballis was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and earned a Master's degree in Mathematics at the University of New Zealand in 1959 and attained a Master of Arts in psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1962. He then moved to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he gained a PhD in psychology in 1965, and taught in the Department of Psychology from 1968 to 1978. [1] During his years as a professor at McGill, the main focus of his research was in cognitive neuroscience, analyzing complex cognitive systems such as perception, attention and memory, and initiating a research program on cerebral asymmetry.[ citation needed ] He was appointed professor of psychology at the University of Auckland in 1978. [1] In recent years, the interests of Corballis have turned to evolutionary biology, contributing significantly to complex cognitive processes.[ citation needed ] Of great international importance was his hypothesis that human language evolved from gestures, expressed in the book "From hand to mouth".[ citation needed ] His work is widely quoted. [2]

Honours and awards



Selected journal papers

Related Research Articles

Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes. It addresses the questions of how cognitive activities are affected or controlled by neural circuits in the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both neuroscience and psychology, overlapping with disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and affective neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience relies upon theories in cognitive science coupled with evidence from neurobiology, and computational modeling.

Neocortex Mammalian structure involved in higher-order brain functions

The neocortex, also called the neopallium and isocortex, is a set of layers of the mammalian cerebral cortex involved in higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning and language. The neocortex is further subdivided into the true isocortex and the proisocortex.

Split-brain or callosal syndrome is a type of disconnection syndrome when the corpus callosum connecting the two hemispheres of the brain is severed to some degree. It is an association of symptoms produced by disruption of, or interference with, the connection between the hemispheres of the brain. The surgical operation to produce this condition involves transection of the corpus callosum, and is usually a last resort to treat refractory epilepsy. Initially, partial callosotomies are performed; if this operation does not succeed, a complete callosotomy is performed to mitigate the risk of accidental physical injury by reducing the severity and violence of epileptic seizures. Before using callosotomies, epilepsy is instead treated through pharmaceutical means after surgery, neuropsychological assessments are often performed.

A mental image or mental picture is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of visually perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. There are sometimes episodes, particularly on falling asleep and waking up (hypnopompic), when the mental imagery, being of a rapid, phantasmagoric and involuntary character, defies perception, presenting a kaleidoscopic field, in which no distinct object can be discerned. Mental imagery can sometimes produce the same effects as would be produced by the behavior or experience imagined.

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in human and primate species, and birds.

Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior. Humans are fundamentally a social species, rather than individualists. As such, Homo sapiens create emergent organizations beyond the individual—structures that range from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilizations, and cultures. These emergent structures evolved hand in hand with neural and hormonal mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped these organisms survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too survived to reproduce. The term "social neuroscience" can be traced to a publication entitled "Social Neuroscience Bulletin" that was published quarterly between 1988 and 1994. The term was subsequently popularized in an article by John Cacioppo and Gary Berntson, published in the American Psychologist in 1992. Cacioppo and Berntson are considered as the legitimate fathers of social neuroscience. Still a young field, social neuroscience is closely related to affective neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience, focusing on how the brain mediates social interactions. The biological underpinnings of social cognition are investigated in social cognitive neuroscience

Music psychology, or the psychology of music, may be regarded as a branch of both psychology and musicology. It aims to explain and understand musical behaviour and experience, including the processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life. Modern music psychology is primarily empirical; its knowledge tends to advance on the basis of interpretations of data collected by systematic observation of and interaction with human participants. Music psychology is a field of research with practical relevance for many areas, including music performance, composition, education, criticism, and therapy, as well as investigations of human attitude, skill, performance, intelligence, creativity, and social behavior.

Developmental cognitive neuroscience is an interdisciplinary scientific field devoted to understanding psychological processes and their neurological bases in the developing organism. It examines how the mind changes as children grow up, interrelations between that and how the brain is changing, and environmental and biological influences on the developing mind and brain.

In cognitive neuroscience, visual modularity is an organizational concept concerning how vision works. The way in which the primate visual system operates is currently under intense scientific scrutiny. One dominant thesis is that different properties of the visual world require different computational solutions which are implemented in anatomically/functionally distinct regions that operate independently – that is, in a modular fashion.

Rachel Sarah Herz American-Canadian psychologist

Rachel Sarah Herz is a Canadian and American psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist, recognized for her research on the psychology of smell.

Brain asymmetry two distinct concepts within human neuroanatomy

In human neuroanatomy, brain asymmetry can refer to at least two quite distinct findings:

The concept of motor cognition grasps the notion that cognition is embodied in action, and that the motor system participates in what is usually considered as mental processing, including those involved in social interaction. The fundamental unit of the motor cognition paradigm is action, defined as the movements produced to satisfy an intention towards a specific motor goal, or in reaction to a meaningful event in the physical and social environments. Motor cognition takes into account the preparation and production of actions, as well as the processes involved in recognizing, predicting, mimicking and understanding the behavior of other people. This paradigm has received a great deal of attention and empirical support in recent years from a variety of research domains including developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and social psychology.

Biological motion

Biological motion is motion that comes from actions of a biological organism. Humans and animals are able to understand those actions through experience, identification, and higher level neural processing. Humans use biological motion to identify and understand familiar actions, which is involved in the neural processes for empathy, communication, and understanding other's intentions. The neural network for biological motion is highly sensitive to the observer's prior experience with the action's biological motions, allowing for embodied learning. This is related to a research field that is broadly known as embodied cognitive science, along with research on mirror neurons.

Vittorio Gallese Italian physioloigst

Vittorio Gallese is professor of Psychobiology at the University of Parma, Italy, and was professor in Experimental Aesthetics at the University of London, UK (2016-2018). He is an expert in neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. Gallese is one of the discoverers of mirror neurons. His research attempts to elucidate the functional organization of brain mechanisms underlying social cognition, including action understanding, empathy, language, mindreading and aesthetic experience.

Michael Steven Anthony Graziano is an American scientist and novelist who is currently a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness. He has proposed the "attention schema" theory, an explanation of how, and for what adaptive advantage, brains attribute the property of awareness to themselves. His previous work focused on how the cerebral cortex monitors the space around the body and controls movement within that space. Notably he has suggested that the classical map of the body in motor cortex, the homunculus, is not correct and is better described as a map of complex actions that make up the behavioral repertoire. His publications on this topic have had a widespread impact among neuroscientists but have also generated controversy. His novels rely partly on his background in psychology and are known for surrealism or magic realism. Graziano also composes music including symphonies and string quartets. He is an avid practitioner of ventriloquism and uses a puppet orangutan "Kevin" as sidekick.

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Cecilia Heyes Experimental psychologist

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Sophie Scott British neuroscientist

Sophie Kerttu Scott is a British neuroscientist and Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at University College London (UCL). Her research investigates the cognitive neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter particularly speech perception, speech production, vocal emotions and human communication. She also serves as deputy director of UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Justine Saade-Sergent was a researcher in the cognitive neuroscience field. She was an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University from 1979 - 1982.

Sharon Thompson-Schill American cognitive psychologist

Dr. Sharon Thompson-Schill is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is an expert on the biological basis of human cognitive systems, including language, memory, perception, and cognitive control, and the relationships between these systems. As of 2019, she has produced more than 150 scientific publications, which collectively have been cited over 13,700 times.


  1. 1 2 "Curriculum vitae" (PDF). michaelcorballis.com. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  2. "Michael Corballis - Google Scholar Citations". scholar.google.com.
  3. "New Zealand Association of Scientists - Shorland Medal". scientists.org.nz. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  4. "2016 Rutherford Medal: Understanding the Human Mind". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 2 May 2020.