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Christina Thorpe

B.Sc. (Hons.) Memorial, M.A., Ph.D. University of British Columbia

Associate Professor

Office: SN3069
Phone:(709) 864-4806
Affiliations: Behavioural Neuroscience

Research Interests

My research is in the area of animal cognition, or, more specifically, I use animals as a model to understand cognition in general. My primary focus at present is the role of spatial and temporal information in the organization of animal memory, using a paradigm known as time-place learning (TPL). In TPL the availability of food varies depending on the time (e.g., the time in minutes since the study session began or the time of day) and the place (e.g., location on a radial arm maze). The studies that I am currently involved in are aimed at determining how animals, specifically rats, encode spatial and temporal information in memory. Some researchers have suggested that both animal and human memory may be organized on the basis of spatial and temporal information. In addition to my studies of TPL in animals, I am also beginning an investigation into this ability in children. The focus will be on a comparison between spatiotemporal abilities in humans and non-human animals.

In addition to my work on TPL, I am also interested in the more general spatial and temporal abilities of both animals and humans.


I received my Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Don Wilkie. Upon completion of my Ph.D. I completed a two year NSERC Post-doctoral Fellowship at University College London.

Student Mentoring

Undergraduate: I look forward to the opportunity to supervise Honours projects. Students who are interested in either animal or human cognition, and in particular spatial and temporal ability, should contact me to set up an appointment. Students will receive hands-on experience in all aspects of study design, data collection, data analysis and presentation of research results.

In addition to honours students I am interested in mentoring other psychology undergraduate students who would like to gain some research experience by volunteering in a psychology laboratory. I have found that undergraduates that volunteer in psychology labs find it to be a very rewarding experience.

Graduate: I am currently recruiting graduate students who are interested in conducting research into the temporal and spatial abilities of humans and non-human animals. If your academic research interests are in line with those discussed above, you are encouraged to contact me to discuss the possibility of graduate work in my lab.



Peckford, G., Dwyer, J. A., Snow, A. C., Thorpe, C. M., Martin, G. M., & Skinner, D. M. (accepted, August) The effects of lesions to the postsubiculum or the anterior dorsal nucleus of the thalamus on spatial learning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience.


Cahill, S. P. A., Fifield, K. E., Thorpe, C. M., Martin, G. M., & Skinner, D. M. (accepted, May 2014). Mice use start point orientation to solve spatial problems in a water T-maze. Animal Cognition. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-014-0789-1


Deibel, S.H., Ingram, M.L., Lehr, A.B., Martin, H.C., Skinner, D.M., Martin, G.M., Hughes, I.M.W., & Thorpe, C.M. (2014). In a daily time-place learning task, time is only used as a discriminative stimulus if each daily session is associated with a distinct spatial location. Learning & Behavior, 42, 246-255. DOI:10.3758/s13420-014-0142-1


Skinner, D. M., Martin, G. M., Wright, S. L., Tomlin, J., Odintsova, I. V., Thorpe, C. M., Harley, C. W., & Marrone, D. F. (2014) Hippocampal spatial mapping and the acquisition of competing responses. Hippocampus, 24, 396-402. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22233


Dwyer, J. A., Ingram, M. L., Snow, A. C., Thorpe, C. M., Martin, G. M., & Skinner, D. M. (2013). The effects of bilateral lesions to the dorsal tegmental nucleus on spatial learning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 127(6), 867-877. doi: 10.1037/a0034931


Deibel, S., & Thorpe, C. M. (2013). The Effects of Response Cost and Species Typical Behaviors on a Daily Time-Place Learning Task. Learning & Behaviour, 41 (1), 42 - 53. doi: 10.3758/s13420-012-0076-4


Peckford, G., McCrae, S.M., Thorpe, C.M., Martin, G.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2013). Rats’ orientation at the start point is important for spatial learning in a water T-maze. Learning & Motivation, 44, 1-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.lmot.2012.06.006


Hallett, D., Nunes, T., Bryant, P., & Thorpe, C. M. (2012). Individual differences in conceptual and procedural fraction understanding: The role of abilities and school experience. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113 (4), 469 – 486. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.07.009


Thorpe, C. M., Hallett, D., Murphy, M., Fitzpatrick, C. L., & Bakhtiar, A. (2012). Interval time-place learning in young children. Behavioural Processes, 91 (2), 198 – 201. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.07.002.


Thorpe, C. M., Deibel, S., Reddigan, J., & Fontaine, C. (2012). Strain differences in a high response-cost daily time-place learning task. Behavioural Processes, 90 (3), 384 – 391. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.04.004


Martin, G. M., Pirzada, A., Bridger, A., Tomlin, J., Thorpe, C. M., & Skinner, D. M. (2011). Manipulations of start and food locations affect navigation on a foraging task. Learning and Motivation, 42 (4), 288 - 299. DOI: 10.1016/j.lmot.2011.08.001


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2007). Rats acquire a low response-cost daily time place task with differential amounts of food. Learning & Behavior, 35, 71 - 78.


Thorpe, C. M., Hallett, D., & Wilkie, D. M. (2007). The Role of Spatial and Temporal Information in Learning Interval Time-Place Tasks. Behavioural Processes, 75, 55 - 65.


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2006). Rats’ performance on an interval time-place task: Increasing sequence complexity. Learning & Behavior, 34, 248 - 254.


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2006). Properties of time-place learning. In T. R. Zentall & E. A. Wasserman (Eds.), Comparative Cognition: Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence (pp. 229 - 245). Oxford University Press.


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2005). Spatial associative memory: A possible species difference in rats and pigeons . Behavioural Processes, 70, 301 - 306.


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2005). Interval time-place learning by rats: Varying reinforcement contingencies. Behavioural Processes, 70, 156 - 167.


Thorpe, C. M., Jacova, C., & Wilkie, D. M. (2004). Some pitfalls in measuring memory in animals. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 28, 711 - 718.


Thorpe, C.M., Bates, M.E., & Wilkie, D.M. (2003). Rats have trouble associating all three parts of the time-place-event memory code. Behavioural Processes, 63, 95 - 110.


Thorpe, C. M., Floresco, S. B., Carr, J. A. R., & Wilkie, D. M. (2002). Alterations in time-place learning induced by lesions to the rat medial prefrontal cortex. Behavioural Processes, 59, 87 - 100.


Thorpe, C. M., Petrovic, V., & Wilkie, D. M. (2002). How rats process spatiotemporal information in the face of distraction. Behavioural Processes, 58, 79 - 90.


Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2002). Unequal interval time-place learning. Behavioural Processes, 58, 157 - 166.


Carr, J. A. R., Tan, A. O., Thorpe, C. M., & Wilkie, D. M. (2001). Further evidence of joint time-place control of rats’ behaviour: Further evidence from an “open hopper” test. Behavioural Processes, 53, 147 - 153.


Huxter, J. R., Thorpe, C. M., Martin, G. M., & Harley, C. W. (2001). Spatial problem solving and hippocampal place cell firing in rats: Control by an internal sense of direction carried across environments. Behavioural Brain Research, 123, 37 - 48.


Skinner, D. M., Martin, G. M., Scanlon, C. J., Thorpe, C. M., Barry, J., Evans, J. H., & Harley, C. W. (2001). A two-platform task reveals a deficit in the ability of rats to return to the start location in the water maze. Behavioral Neuroscience, 115, 220 - 228.