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Fellows Directory

Nicholas Mackintosh

Nicholas Mackintosh

Professor Nicholas Mackintosh FRS


Elected: 1987


Distinguished for his fundamental work on conditioning and learning in animals. He was an important founder of a school which has brought about a change from the traditional view which considered temporal contiguity and reinforcement as the prime determinants of classical conditioning to the broader and richer view in which it is treated as an associative process by which animals acquire knowledge about relationships among events in their environment. He was internationally well-known for his ingenious and robust experiments, especially on "blocking" and "overshadowing", in which the precise details of the contingencies among environmental events, and not just their temporal proximity, are shown to be important in determining the success of conditioning by animals, and the form that it takes. These have led to and reinforced an influential theory of conditioning in which the laws of association are more complex and richer than traditionally envisaged, and which has clear links with the domain of information processing in humans.

Professor Nicholas Mackintosh FRS died on 8 February 2015.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Experimental psychology
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