We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Professor Robert A. Barton, BSc, M.Sc, PhD

Director (Social Sciences) in the Institute of Advanced Study

Contact Professor Robert A. Barton


Evolutionary biologist/anthropologist interested in brains, behaviour and cognition, using phylogenetoic comparative methods to study how these traits evolved. Developed and tested the 'Visual brain hypothesis' for primate brain size evolution. Currently interested in the underestimated role of the cerebellum in brain evolution and cognition. Also works on the evolutionary and cultural significance of the colour red.

Recent projects include: 'The Phylogeny of Sleep' (funded by NIH, $1m); 'Evolutionary architecture of reproduction in female mammals' (funded by BBSRC/NERC, £248k); 'Cognitive Evolution and the brain' (Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, £38k).


    • 2018: Osman Hill Memorial medal awarded by Primate Society of Great Britain:
    • Leverhulme Research Fellow (2012-13) - Cognitive evolution and the brain
    • Visting Research Fellow, All Souls Collge Oxford (2011) - Evolution of human cognition
    • President, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (2010-2013)
    • Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology (2005-)
    • President, Primate Society of Great Britain (2001-2005)
    • PhD in Primate Behavioural Ecology (1990)

    Indicators of Esteem

    Research Interests

    • Behavioural ecology and sociobiology
    • Comparative studies of brain size and structure in relation to behavioural ecology
    • Evolution of mamalian reproductive traits
    • Primate evolution and behaviour

    Selected Publications

    Show all publications

    Selected Grants

    • 2012: Cognitive Evolution and the Brain (£39013.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
    • 2008: EVOLUTIONARY ARCHITECTURE (£249647.07 from Bbsrc)
    • 2006: RCUK FELLOWSHIP (£125000.00 from Epsrc)
    • 2006: RCUK FELLOWSHIP (£125000.00 from Epsrc)
    • 2005: PHYLOGENY OF SLEEP (£128138.22 from National Institutes of Health)

    Contact Us

    Institute of Advanced Study
    Durham University
    Cosin’s Hall
    Palace Green
    DH1 3RL

    General Enquiries: +44 191 334 2589.