Professor Paul Dean

MA, DPhil

Department of Psychology

University Research Fellow
+44 114 222 6521

Full contact details

Professor Paul Dean
Department of Psychology
Floor G
Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane
S1 2LT
  • MA (Cantab)
  • DPhil (Oxon)
Research interests

The cerebellar algorithm

To identify the basic cerebellar algorithm. The cerebellum contains about half of all neurons in the brain, and is essential for skilled movement, yet its fundamental signal-processing operations are still not understood.

Fortunately, cerebellar cells are connected in a stereotyped manner - the cerebellar microcircuit - so that thousands of identical cerebellar 'chips' are wired appropriately into surrounding brain circuitry to carry out multiple motor-control tasks.


My strategy has been to select simple and hence comprehensible tasks to explore the cerebellar algorithm, in particular (i) the calibration of a basic gaze-stabilisation reflex. and (ii) classical conditioning of the eyeblink.

Investigating these tasks requires multi-disciplinary collaboration, with mathematicians (this Department), control engineers (ACSE), roboticists (UWE), electrophysiologists (Edinburgh, Cambridge) and behavioural pharmacologists (UCL).

Testing in real environments

The purpose is to derive candidate models from experimental observations and embed them in robot control systems for testing in real environments.

The long-term goal is to combine the identified cerebellar algorithm with others being developed in the Department for basal ganglia operation, to deliver an integrated control system rooted in biological principles. It is anticipated that understanding such a control system will throw light on the development of higher-level cognitive processes.

  • BSRC "A population model of low-level eye-movement control". P. Dean & J. Porrill. 2000-2003. ~£140,000
  • BBSRC under their initiative on the Integrative Analysis of Brain and Behaviour, to study "Cerebellum as a Neuronal Machine: Behavioural, Electrophysiological and Computational Analysis of Classical Conditioning". P. Dean, J. Porrill, C.Yeo (UCL) and S. Edgley (Cambridge). 2004-2007. ~£750,000
  • EPSRC under their Novel Computation initiative, to study "Functions of Distributed Plasticity in a Biologically-Inspired Adaptive Control Algorithm: From Electrophysiology to Robotics". P. Dean, J. Porrill, M. Dutia (Edinburgh), A. Pipe (UWE) and Melhuish (UWE). 2005-2008. £673,058
Professional activities
  • Referee for NIH
  • Invitee to Foresight meetings (DTI)
  • Co-editor, Experimental Brain Research
  • Co-organiser of International One-Day Workshop on Cerebellum, St.Louis, 2004
  • Double A rating from BBSRC for 2000 grant, and request for publicity material

Invited speaker

  • London 2006: International Conference on Cerebellum organised by Gatsby foundation
  • Birmingham 2005: Review lecture, Meeting of British Oculomotor Group
  • Antwerp 2005: Cerebellar Modelling Meeting
  • Abingdon 2005: Meeting of Nystagmus Network
  • Munich 2005: Sinnesysteme und Motorik seminar
  • Tuebingen 2004: International Conference on Cerebellum
  • Edinburgh 2003: EPSRC Novel Computation Initiative
  • Bochum 2003: International Graduate School for Neuroscience
  • Oxford 2002 : Festschrift for Prof A. Cowey
  • Okazaki 2002: Symposium on 'Cognitive Impact of Sensory Motor Integration'
  • Paris 2002: Federation of European Neuroscience Biennial Meeting, Symposium speaker