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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Alexander Easton

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Psychology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43257
Room number: RH006
Telephone: 43257 / 40121

(email at


I have research interests in the way in which different contexts affect learning and memory, and the mechanisms involved. Recently this has involved focusing on the way in which contexts influence memory, and using this as a way of developing an animal model of episodic memory.

Other interests include the way in which reward outcomes affect learning (for example, do we learn quicker for larger rewards than small rewards and do rewards drive learning faster than punishment)and the way in which social context affects learning and memory.

In addition I have a keen interest in the role of the cholinergic cells of the basal forebrain in learning and memory. These cells are intricately linked to the memory loss in Alzheimer's disease, and I have shown they may also be involved in other types of amnesia (such as medial temporal lobe amnesia).

Research Groups

Department of Psychology

Research Interests

  • Animal Models of Episodic Memory
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning and Memory
  • Learning and its relation to reward outcomes
  • Role of the Cholinergic Basal Forebrain in Learning and Memory
  • The ways in which social context modulate learning and memory

Teaching Areas

  • Neuropsychology of Amnesia (20 hours/year.)

Selected Publications

Edited book

  • Dere, E, Easton, A, Nadel, L & Huston, JP (2008). Handbook of Episodic Memory. Handbook of Behavioural Neuroscience. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Easton, A. & Emery, N.J. (2005). The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour. Hove: Psychology Press.

Chapter in book

  • Easton, A & Eacott, M.J. (2008). A new working definition of episodic memory: replacing 'when' with 'which'. In Handbook of Episodic Memory. Dere, E, Easton, A, Nadel, L & Huston, JP Amsterdam: Elsevier. 185-196.
  • Easton, A. (2005). Behavioural flexibility, social learning and the frontal cortex. In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour. Easton, A. & Emery, N.J. Hove: Psychology Press. 59-79.
  • Emery, N.J. & Easton, A. (2005). What is social cognitive neuroscience (SCN)? In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour. Easton, A. & Emery, N.J. Hove: Psychology Press. 1-16.
  • Parker, A. & Easton, A. (2004). Cross-modal memory in primates: The neural basis of learning about the multisensory properties of objects and events. In The Handbook of Multisensory Processes. Calvert, G., Spence, C. & Stein, B.E. London: MIT Press. 333-342.
  • Easton, A., Parker, A. & Gaffan, D. (2002). Memory encoding and retrieval: The nature of interactions between the primate frontal lobe and posterior cortex. In The Cogntive Neuroscience of Memory: Encoding and Retrieval. Parker, A., Wilding, E.L. & Bussey, T.J. Hove: Psychology Press. 173-196.
  • Parker, A., Easton, A. & Gaffan, D. (2002). Memory encoding in the primate brain: The role of the basal forebrain. In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory: Encoding and Retrieval. Parker, A., Wilding, E.L. & Bussey, T.J. Hove: Psychology Press. 151-172.
  • Easton, A. & Gaffan, D. (2000). Amygdala and the memory of reward: the importance of fibres of passage from the basal forebrain. In The Amygdala: A Functional Analysis. Aggleton, J.P. Oxford: OUP. 569-586.

Journal Article

  • Seel, S.V., Easton, A., McGregor, A., Buckley, M.G. & Eacott, M.J. (2019). Walking through doorways differentially affects recall and familiarity. British Journal of Psychology 110(1): 173-184.
  • Seel, S.V., Eacott, M.J., Langston, R.F. & Easton, A. (2018). Cholinergic input to the hippocampus is not required for a model of episodic memory in the rat, even with multiple consecutive events. Behavioural Brain Research 354: 48-54.
  • Chan, Michele, Eacott, Madeline J., Sanderson, David J., Wang, Jianfei, Sun, Mu & Easton, Alexander (2018). Continual trials spontaneous recognition tasks in mice: reducing animal numbers and improving our understanding of the mechanisms underlying memory. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 12: 214.
  • Ameen-Ali, K.E., Norman, L.J., Eacott, M.J. & Easton, A. (2017). Incidental context information increases recollection. Learning & Memory 24(3): 136-139.
  • Ameen-Ali, K.E., Easton, A. & Eacott, M.J. (2015). Moving beyond standard procedures to assess spontaneous recognition memory. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 53: 37-51.
  • Robertson, B-A., Eacott, M.J. & Easton, A. (2015). Putting Memory in Context: Dissociating memories by distinguishing the nature of context. Behavioural Brain Research 285: 99-104.
  • Davis, KE, Easton, A., Eacott, MJ & Gigg, J (2013). Episodic-Like Memory for What-Where-Which Occasion is Selectively Impaired in the 3xTgAD Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 33(3): 681-698.
  • Davis, K.E., Eacott, M.J., Easton, A & Gigg, J. (2013). Episodic-like memory is sensitive to both Alzheimer's-like pathological accumulation and normal ageing processes in mice. Behavioural Brain Research 254: 73-82.
  • Ameen-Ali,K.E., Eacott,M.J. & Easton,A. (2012). A new behavioural apparatus to reduce animal numbers in multiple types of spontaneous object recognition paradigms in rats. Journal of neuroscience methods 211(1): 66-76.
  • Easton, A, Douchamps, V., Eacott, MJ & Lever, C (2012). A specific role for septohippocampal acetylcholine in memory? Neuropsychologia 50(13): 3156-3168.
  • Easton, A & Eacott, MJ (2012). Cholinergic mechanisms of episodic memory: what specific behavioural tasks can tell us about specific neural mechanisms. Brain Research Bulletin
  • Eacott, MJ & Easton, A (2012). Remembering the past and thinking about the future: Is it really about time. Learning and Motivation 43: 200-208.
  • Easton, A, Webster, LAD & Eacott, MJ (2012). The episodic nature of episodic-like memories. Learning & Memory 19(4): 146-150.
  • Easton, A. & Eacott, M.J. (2011). Cholinergic mechanisms of episodic memory: What specific behavioural tasks can tell us about specific neural mechanisms. Brain Research Bulletin
  • Easton, A., Child, S. & Lopez-Crespo, G. (2011). Differential outcomes aid the formation of categorical relationships between stimuli. Behavioural Brain Research 222(1): 270-273.
  • Easton, A., Fitchett, A., Eacott, M.J. & Baxter, M.G. (2011). Medial septal cholinergic neurons are necessary for context-place memory but not episodic-like memory. Hippocampus 21(9): 1021-1027.
  • Eacott, MJ & Easton, A (2010). Episodic memory in animals: Remembering which occasion. Neuropsychologia 48(8): 2273-2280.
  • Easton, A. & Eacott, M.J. (2010). Recollection of episodic memory within the medial temporal lobe: behavioural dissociations from other types of memory. Behavioural Brain Research 215(2): 310-317.
  • Easton, A., Zinkivskay, A. & Eacott, M.J. (2009). Recollection is impaired, but familiarity remains intact in rats with lesions of the fornix. Hippocampus 19(9): 837-843.
  • Wilson, CR, Baxter, MG, Easton, A & Gaffan, D (2008). Addition of fornix transection to frontal-temporal disconnection increases the impairment in object-in-place memory in macaque monkeys. European Journal of Neuroscience 27(7): 1814-1822.
  • Browning, PGF, Easton, A & Gaffan, D (2007). Frontal-temporal disconnection abolishes object discrimination learning set in macaque monkeys. Cerebral Cortex 17(4): 859-864.
  • Eacott, MJ & Easton, A (2007). On familiarity and recall of events by rats. Hippocampus 17: 890-897.
  • Eacott, MJ., Easton, A. & Zinkivskay, A. (2005). Recollection in an episodic-like memory task in the rat. Learning & Memory 12(3): 221-223.
  • Browning PGF, Easton A, Buckley MJ & Gaffan D (2005). The role of prefrontal cortex in object-in-place learning in monkeys. European Journal of Neuroscience 22: 3281-3291.
  • Easton, A. (2004). Differential reward outcome learning in adult humans. Behavioural Brain Research 154: 165-169.
  • Easton, A., Parker, K., Derrington, A.M. & Parker, A. (2003). Behaviour of marmoset monkeys in a T-maze: comparison with rats and macaque monkeys on a spatial delayed non-match to sample task. Experimental Brain Research 150: 114-116.
  • Easton, A. & Parker, A. (2003). cholinergic explanation of dense amnesia. Cortex 39: 813-826.
  • Webb, B.S., Tinsley, C.J., Barraclough, N.E., Easton, A., Parker, A. & Derrington, A.M (2002). Feedback from V1 and inhibition from beyond the classical receptive field modulates the responses of neurons in the primate lateral geniculate nucleus. Visual Neuroscience 19: 583-592.
  • Easton, A. & Gaffan, D. (2002). Insights into the nature of fronto-temporal interactions from a biconditional discrimination task in the monkey. Behavioural Brain Research 136: 217-226.
  • Gaffan, D., Easton, A. & Parker, A. (2002). Interaction of inferior temporal cortex with frontal cortex and basal forebrain: Double dissociation in strategy implementation and associative learning. Journal of Neuroscience 22(16): 7288-7296.
  • Derrington, A.M., Parker, A., Barraclough, N.E., Easton, A., Goodson, G.R., Parker, K.S., Tinsley, C.J. & Webb, B.S. (2002). The uses of colour vision: behavioural and physiological distinctiveness of colour stimuli. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 357: 975-985.
  • Easton, A., Ridley, R.M., Baker, H.F. & Gaffan, D. (2002). Unilateral lesions of the cholinergic basal forebrain and fornix in one hemisphere and inferior temporal cortex in the opposite hemisphere produce severe learning impairments in rhesus monkeys. Cerebral Cortex 12(7): 729-736.
  • Easton, A., Parker, A. & Gaffan, D. (2001). Crossed unilateral lesions of medial forebrain bundle and either inferior temporal or frontal cortex impair object recognition memory in Rhesus monkeys. Behavioural Brain Research 121(1-2): 1-10.
  • Easton, A. & Gaffan, D. (2001). Crossed unilateral lesions of the medial forebrain bundle and either inferior temporal or frontal cortex impair object-reward association learning in Rhesus monkeys. Neuropsychologia 39(1): 71-82.
  • Gaffan, D., Parker, A. & Easton, A. (2001). Dense amnesia in the monkey after transaction of fornix, amygdala and anterior temporal stem. Neuropsychologia 39: 51-70.
  • Easton, A. & Gaffan, D. (2000). Comparison of perirhinal cortex ablation and crossed unilateral lesions of the medial forebrain bundle from the inferior temporal cortex in the rhesus monkey: effects on learning and retrieval. Behavioral Neuroscience 114: 1041-1057.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Learning and Memory
  • Neuroscience: Learning and Memory
  • Psychology: Learning and Memory
  • Memory and brain function: Learning and Memory