Thomas grew up in Germany and joined UQ in 1999 following postgraduate studies in New Zealand. He investigates the mental capacities in young children and in animals to answer fundamental questions about the nature and evolution of the human mind. His research has attracted several awards (incl. from the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, the Australian Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association) and his critically acclaimed book The Gap (e.g. see reviews in Nature, Science or the Wall Street Journal http://thegap.psy.uq.edu.au/) is currently being translated into several languages.
Ph.D. (Auck.); M.Soc.Sc. (Waik.)
Born and raised in Germany. Postgraduate studies in New Zealand. Lecturer at UQ since 1999.
In the news
Q&A in Current Biology 2015
Reviews of THE GAP have appeared in various outlets including Nature, The Wall Street Journal, Science, Scientific American Mind, The Times, Kirkus Reviews, Journal of the History of Biology, Australian Book Review, Times Higher Education and New Scientist.
THE GAP was selected as a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Fall 2013 titles in the Science category, a Guardian Top Ten Science book, a BBC Focus 5-star rating & editor's choice, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Best Book of 2014.
Radio coverage includes interviews with broadcasters in the US (e.g., Michelangelo Signorile Show, Grok's Science Show, WPR) Australia (e.g., ABC, 4BC) and the UK (e.g., Futureproof, Moncrieff Show).
You can listen to Thomas talk about "What makes us human" on RN's Ockham's razor or watch his TEDx talk on clues about the evolution of our extraordinary minds or the ABC TV's Big Ideas discussion on what makes us human.
For German speakers, click here for details about "Der Unterschied - Was den Mensch zum Menschen macht" or check out: radio interviews on SBS, WDR Redezeit or any of the interviews on Deutschlandradio channels (including an extensive interview for Zwischentoene)
The Conversation article: What makes us human?
Science magazine story: Can animals envision the future? Scientists spar over new data
Discover magazine story: The brain - Memories are crucial for looking into the future
Science magazine: Did working memory spark creative culture
ISI Thompson Reuters ScienceWatch New Hot Paper in the field of Neuroscience & Behavior Interview
New Scientist story: King of the swingers has no use for mirrors.
New York Times story: Time in the animal mind
New Scientist story: Can animals escape the present?
2013 Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science
2006 Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Research Award;
2005 Academy of Social Sciences in Australia Early Career Medal;
2004 American Psychological Association Frank A. Beach Award;
2002 Australian Psychological Society Early Career Award;
2001 Award for Teaching Excellence, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences;
1999 Novartis Foundation Bursary
The development and evolution of representational capacities with a focus on understanding of self, time and mind.
At the Early Cognitive Development Centre we investigate infants' and young children's growing mental capacities. In collaborations with Zoos, our comparative group studies the representational abilities of other primates.
For information on great apes in the wild see GRASP
Much of Thomas' research focusses on what makes us the peculiar creatures that we are, as illustrated by his book The Gap - Science of What Separates Us From Other Animals.
Science: “The book provides a new lens though which to see the world. Read it, and you might never look at yourself or your household pets in the same way”
The New York Review of Books: “…the most comprehensive comparison of mentalities of humans and apes that one can imagine.”
New Scientist: “…gives new meaning to the phrase ‘know thyself’”
Scientific American Mind: “… sure-handed, fascinating book.”
Nature: “Fascinating…would make a marvellous gift”
Financial Times: “admirably clear… deserves a wide audience.”
The Wall Street Journal: “…not only consistently interesting and informative but at times delightfully playful.”
The Times: “brilliantly fills in the gap with telling detail and acute analysis.”
Journal of the History of Biology: “…important and beautifully written book”
Miloyan, B. & Suddendorf, T. (in press). Feelings of the future. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Miloyan, B., Bulley, A., & Suddendorf, T (in press). Episodic Foresight and Anxiety: Proximate and Ultimate Perspectives. British Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Dong, A., Collier-Baker, E., & Suddendorf, T. (in press). Building blocks of human design thinking in animals. International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation.
Lyons, A.D., Henry, J.D., Rendell, P.G., Corballis, M.C., & Suddendorf, T. (2014). Episodic foresight and aging. Psychology and Aging, 29, 873-884.
Butler, D., & Suddendorf, T. (2014). Reducing the Neural Search Space for Hominid Cognition: What Distinguishes Human and Great Ape Brains from those of Small Apes? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 21, 590-619.
Suddendorf, T. & Butler, D. (2014). Are rich interpretation of visual self-recognition a bit too rich? Trends in Cognitive Science, 18, 58-59.
Miloyan, B., Pachana, N., & Suddendorf, T. (2014). The future is here: A review of foresight systems in anxiety and depression. Cognition and Emotion, 28, 795-810.
Suddendorf, T. (2013). THE GAP – The Science of What Separates Us From Other Animals. New York: Basic Books.
Suddendorf T., & Redshaw, J., (2013). The development of mental scenario building and episodic foresight. Annals of the New York Academy of Science: The Year in Cognitive Neuroscience, 1296, 135-153.
Butler, D.L., Mattingley, J.B., Cunnington, R., & Suddendorf, T. (2013). Different Neural Processes Accompany Self-Recognition in Photographs Across the Lifespan: An ERP Study Using Dizygotic Twins. PLoS One, 8 (9): e72586.
Suddendorf, T. & Henry, J (2013). Proximate and ultimate perspectives on memory. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 246-247.
Mulcahy, N., Schubiger, M.N., & Suddendorf, T. (2013). Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo abelii) understand connectivity in the skewered grape tool task. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127, 243-254.
Suddendorf, T., & Butler, D.L. (2013). The nature of visual self-recognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 121-127.
Redshaw, J., & Suddendorf, T. (2013). Foresight beyond the very next event: four-year-olds can link past and deferred future episodes. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 404.
Suddendorf, T. (2013). Mental time travel: Continuities and Discontinuities. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 151-152.
Suddendorf, T., & Dong, A. (2013). The evolution of imagination and design. In M. Taylor (Ed.), Oxford handbook on the development of imagination (pp. 453-467). Oxford University Press
Oostenbroek, J., Slaughter, Nielsen & Suddendorf (2013). Why the confusion around neonatal imitation. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.
Suddendorf, T., Oostenbroek, J., Nielsen, M., & Slaugther, V.P. (2013). Is newborn imitation developmentally homologue to later social-cognitive developments? Developmental Psychobiology, 55, 52-58.
Hill, A., Collier-Baker, E., & Suddendorf, T. (2012). Inferential reasoning by exclusion in children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126, 243-254.
Suddendorf, T., Borrello, M.E., Allen, C., & Radick, G. (2012). If I could talk to the animals. Metascience, 21, 253-267.
Butler, D.L., Mattingley, J.B., Cunnington, R., & Suddendorf, T. (2012). Mirror, mirror on the wall, how does my brain recognize my image at all? PLoS One, 7, 1-7.
Suddendorf, T. & Moore, C. (2011). Introduction to special issue: the development of episodic foresight. Cognitive Development, 26, 295-298.
Suddendorf, T., Addis, D.R., & Corballis, M.C. (2011) Mental Time Travel and the Shaping of the Human Mind. In M. Bar (Ed.) The prospective brain. Oxford University Press
Suddendorf, T. (2011). Evolution, lies and foresight biases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34, 38-39.
Hill, A., Collier-Baker, E., & Suddendorf, T. (2011). Inferential Reasoning By Exclusion in Great Apes, Lesser Apes, and Spider Monkeys. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125, 91-103.
Mulcahy, N., & Suddendorf, T. (2011). An obedient orangutan (Pongo abelii) performs perfectly in peripheral object-choice tasks but fails the standard centrally presented versions. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125, 112-115.
Busby Grant, J., & Suddendorf, T. (2011). Production of temporal terms by 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 87-95.
Suddendorf, T. (2011). Mirror self-recognition on Earth. In Penrose, R., Hameroff, S., &. Kak, S. (Eds.). Consciousness and the universe (pp. 782-787). Cambridge, MA.: Cosmology Science Publishers.
Suddendorf, T., Nielsen, M., & van Gehlen, R. (2011). Children’s capacity to remember a novel problem and to secure its future solution. Developmental Science, 14, 26-33.
Suddendorf, T. & Corballis, M.C. (2010). Behavioural evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. Behavioural Brain Research, 215, 292-298.
Busby-Grant J., & Suddendorf, T. (2010). Young children's ability to distinguish past and future changes in physical and mental states. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28, 853-870.
Suddendorf, T. (2010) Linking yesterday and tomorrow: Preschooler’s ability to report temporally displaced events. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28, 491-498.
Suddendorf, T. (2010). Episodic memory versus episodic foresight: Similarities and differences. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Cognitive Science, 1, 99-107.
Corballis M.C. & Suddendorf, T. (2010). The evolution of concepts: a timely look. In Marshal, D., Quinn, P.C., & Lea, S. (Eds). The making of human concepts (pp. 365-386). Oxford University Press.
Suddendorf, T., Addis, D.R., & Corballis, M.C. (2009). Mental time travel and the shaping of the human mind. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 364, 1317-1324.
Suddendorf, T. & Collier-Baker, E. (2009). The evolution of primate visual self-recognition: Evidence of absence in lesser apes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276, 1671-1677
Suddendorf, T., Corballis, M.C., & Collier-Baker, E. (2009). How great is great ape foresight? Animal Cognition,12, 751-754.
Busby Grant, J., & Suddendorf, T. (2009). Preschoolers begin to differentiate the times of events from throughout the lifespan. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6, 746-762.
Suddendorf T., & Corballis, M.C. (2008). New evidence for animal foresight? Animal Behaviour, 75, e1-e3.
Suddendorf. T. (2008). Explaining human cognitive autapomorphies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 147-148.
Suddendorf, T., & Corballis, M.C. (2008). Episodic memory and mental time travel. In Dere, E., Huston, J.P., & Easton, A. (Eds.), Handbook of Episodic Memory Research, Vol 18. (pp. 31- 42). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Suddendorf, T. & Corballis, M.C. (2007b). Mental time travel across the disciplines: The future looks bright. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 335-351.
Whiten, A. & Suddendorf, T. (2007). Great ape cognition and the evolutionary roots of human imagination. In I. Roth (Ed.). Imaginative Minds (pp 31-60). London: Oxford University Press.
Suddendorf, T., Simcock, G., & Nielsen, M. (2007). Visual self-recognition in mirrors and live videos: evidence for a developmental asynchrony. Cognitive Development, 22, 185-196.
Slaughter, V.P., & Suddendorf, T. (2007). Participant loss in infant visual paradigms: A review of the last 20 years. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 505-514.
Suddendorf, T. (2006). Foresight and evolution of the human mind. Science, 312, 1006-1007.
Collier-Baker, E., & Suddendorf, T. (2006). Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and two-year-old children (Homo sapiens) understand double invisible displacement? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120, 89-97.
Suddendorf, T. (2006). Primates and evolution of the human mind. Dialogue, 25, 3, 50-58.
Nielsen, M., Slaughter, V., & Suddendorf, T. (2006). Self-recognition beyond the face. Child Development, 77, 176-185.
Nielsen, M., Suddendorf, T., & Dissanayake, C. (2006). Imitation and self-recognition in autism. In Rogers, S., & Williams, J.W. (Eds.). Imitation and the development of the social mind (pp. 138-156. New York: Guilford Press.
Suddendorf, T. & Busby, J. (2005). Making decisions with the future in mind: Developmental and comparative identification of mental time travel. Learning & Motivation, (Special Issue: Cognitive time travel in people and animals), 36,110-125.
Collier-Baker, E., Davis, J.M., Nielsen, M., & Suddendorf, T. (2005). Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) understand single invisible displacement? Animal Cognition, 9(1), 55-61.
Busby, J. & Suddendorf, T. (2005). Recalling yesterday and predicting tomorrow. Cognitive Development, 20, 362-372.
Nielsen, M., Collier-Baker, E., Davis, J., & Suddendorf, T. (2005). Imitation recognition in a captive chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes). Animal Cognition, 8, 31-36.
Suddendorf, T. (2004). How primatology can inform us about the evolution of the human mind. Australian Psychologist, 39, 180-187.
Collier-Baker, E., Davis, J., & Suddendorf, T. (2004). Do dogs (Canis familiaris) understand invisible displacement? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 118, 421-433.
Williams, J., Massaro, D., Peel, N., Bosseler, A., & Suddendorf, T. (2004). Visual-Auditory integration during speech imitation in autism. Research in Developmental Disability, 25, 559-575.
Suddendorf, T. (2003). Early representational insight: 24-month-olds can use a photo to find an object in the world. Child Development, 74, 896-904.
Suddendorf, T. & Busby, J. (2003). Mental time travel in animals? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 391-396.
Suddendorf, T., & A. Whiten (2003). Reinterpreting the Mentality of Apes. In J. Fitness and K. Sterelny (Eds.). From mating to mentality: Evaluating evolutionary psychology (pp. 173-196). New York, Psychology Press.
Suddendorf, T. & Busby, J. (2003). Like it or not. The mental time travel debate. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 437-438.
Suddendorf, T. (2002). A brief history of monkey business. Biology & Philosophy, 15, 703-713.
Suddendorf, T., & Whiten, A. (2001). Mental evolution and development: evidence for secondary representation in children, great apes and other animals. Psychological Bulletin, 629-650.
Williams, J.H.G., Whiten, A., Suddendorf, T., & Perrett D.I. (2001). Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Review, 25, 287-295.
Whiten, A., & Suddendorf, A. (2001). Meta-representation and secondary representation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5, 378.
Lobb, B., Harre, N., & Suddendorf, T. (2001). An evaluation of a suburban railway pedestrian crossing safety programme. Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 33, 157-165.
Suddendorf, T. (2001). A developmental link between the production of gestural representations and the understanding of mental representations. In S. Reifel (Ed.) Theory in context and out. Play & Culture Studies, Vol. 3 (pp. 217-231). Westport, Connecticut: Ablex.
Suddendorf, T. (2000). Discussion of natural selection, mental modules and intelligence. In Sir M. Rutter, The nature of intelligence (pp. 105-113). London: Wiley.
Suddendorf, T. (2000). Reconstructing the evolution of language: different prospects for 'early bloomer' and 'late bloomer' theories. Psycoloquy.
Suddendorf, T. (1999). Children's understanding of the relation between delayed video representation and current reality: A test for self-awareness? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 72, 152-176.
Suddendorf, T. (1999). The rise of the metamind. In M.C. Corballis and S. Lea (Eds.), The descent of mind: Psychological perspectives on hominid evolution (pp. 218-260). London: Oxford University Press.
Suddendorf, T., & Fletcher-Flinn, C.M. (1999). Children's divergent thinking improves when they understand false beliefs. Creativity Research Journal, Special Issue: Longitudinal Studies of Creativity, 12, 115-128.
Suddendorf, T., Fletcher-Flinn, C.M., & Johnston, L. (1999). Pantomime and Theory of mind. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 160, 31-45.
Suddendorf, T. (1998). Simpler for evolution: Secondary representation in apes, children, and ancestors. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 131.
Fletcher-Flinn, C.M., & Suddendorf, T. (1998). Computer attitudes, gender, and exploratory behaviour in preschoolers. SET, 1, 8.
Suddendorf, T., & Fletcher-Flinn, C.M. (1997). Theory of mind and the origins of divergent thinking. Journal of Creative Behavior, 31, 59-69.
Suddendorf, T., & Corballis, M.C. (1997). Mental time travel and the evolution of the human mind. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 123, 133-167.
Note: Coordinator roles prior to 2009 and tutor roles prior to 2006 are not included.
Cognitive development, Animal Cognition, Evolutionary Psychology