Professor Simon Farrell

Started at UWA: 2014

Discovering the role of memory in decision-making


My work uses mathematical models to understand how the mind works.
I love the clarity and precision that is provided by maths, and the ability to use simulations to play with different theories and work through their implications.
Professor Simon Farrell
Head of School of Psychological Science


Simon Farrell is a Professor and Head of the School of Psychological Science, joining UWA in 2014 as a Future Fellow.

His main research emphasis is on the application of computational models to human cognition. His work uses these models to competitively and quantitatively test different theories, to show how theoretical mechanisms can sometimes do surprising things and to point to integrating principles across different areas. This has led him to co-write two books on theories and modelling in psychological science, and to publish numerous papers on the application of models to psychological data.

Professor Farrell has developed the Serial-Order-in-a-Box (SOB) model of short-term memory, and much of his research has been dedicated to developing and empirically testing the model. With Klaus Oberauer and other colleagues the model has been extended to working memory.

Across all this work, a key interest has been in how people remember sequences of information and their timing, and how error patterns and the dynamics of recall can be theoretically informative.


With Casimir Ludwig and Iain Gilchrist, Simon has examined saccadic decision-making, looking at how learning plays a role in inhibition of return. Earlier work with Eric-Jan Wagenmakers and Roger Ratcliff applied choice reaction time models to sequential relations in choice and simple reaction time tasks, and categorization models to sequential effects in categorization.

In 2009 Simon was awarded the Bertelson Award by the European Society for Cognitive Psychology for his outstanding early career contribution to European Cognitive Psychology.

Simon was Associate Editor of the Journal of Memory and Language (2009-11; 2018) and the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2011-16). He is currently Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Psychology (2019-) and Associate Editor of Cognitive Psychology (2020-).

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Bertelson Award by the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, 2009

Deputy Director at the British Journal of Psychology




Australian Research Council

  • 'Goal pursuit decisions under environmental and social uncertainty'



Australian Research Council

  • 'Developing an integrated memory-based model of evaluation and choice'



Australian Research Council

  • 'The role of episodic memory in imagining and planning for the future'

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