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Indiana University Bloomington
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William D. Timberlake

Professor Emeritus Psychological And Brain Sciences
Co-Director Program in Animal Behavior
Co-Director Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior
Phone: (812) 855-4042


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1969

Research Interests

Analysis and modeling of regulatory systems

The long term objective of my research is to develop a theory of purposive behavior that combines an ecological emphasis on the basis of naturally occurring behavior with a focus on the role of learning and regulatory processes in controlling behavior. I am interested in ties to philosophy and computer science on one hand and to evolution and neuroscience on the other.

Empirically we are concerned with:

  • Analyzing the temporal and stimulus control of sequential motivational states underlying foraging behavior, using the techniques of Pavlovian conditioning
  • Clarifying the unique circadian control of anticipation of food
  • Understanding the role of spatial cues and existing perceptual-motor organization in efficient locomotor search

Theoretically we have been concerned with:

  • Simulating and modeling free and constrained feeding in rats, and generalizing our threshold approach to multiple behaviors
  • Proposing a general conception of the organization of functional systems of behavior, particularly as applied to the perceptual, motor, and motivational structure underlying naturally occurring foraging behavior
  • Developing a motivational "grammar" of purposive behavior.


We have a large number of computer-controlled experimental stations for recording and precisely constraining the 24-hr behavior of rats. We also acquire video data using cameras linked to computers, and, in some cases, are able to program spatial-temporal contingencies based on video input. Finally we have a variety of spatial mazes suitable for studying search in rodents.

Dissertation Committee Service

Bold student names indicate a cognitive science standalone student.

Author Dissertation Title Committee
Baray, C. Evolution of Coordination in Reactive Multi-Agent Systems (December 1999)Mills, J. (Chair), Gasser, M., Rawlins, G., Timberlake, W.
Wagner, K. Simulation Models of Evolution: Communication And Cooperation (August 2000)Gasser, M. (Chair), Leake, D., Port, R., Timberlake, W.
Tamara, CarolinaRoute Learning And Its Interaction With Visual Landmarks (May 2013)Timberlake, W. (chair), Crystal, J., Goldstone, R., Todd, P.