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Professor of Cognitive Science in the School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin

Ruth Byrne is the Professor of Cognitive Science at Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, in the School of Psychology and the Institute of Neuroscience, a Chair created for her by the University in 2005.

Her research expertise is in the cognitive science of human thinking, including experimental and computational investigations of reasoning and imaginative thought. Her books include 'The Rational Imagination: How People Create Alternatives to Reality' published in 2005 by MIT press (and selected for open peer commentary by the Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal in 2007), and 'Deduction', co-authored with Phil Johnson-Laird, published in 1991 by Erlbaum Associates (and selected for open peer commentary by the Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal in 1993). She has published over 100 articles in journals such as the Annual Review of Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychological Review, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Science,and Cognition (see

She is the former Vice Provost of Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, the 68th Vice Provost since the University was established in 1592 (the first was Henry Ussher in 1594) and the second woman to be appointed to the role (see Prior to that she was the Head of the School of Psychology and former Deputy Director of the Institute of Neuroscience. Her recent contributions to the discipline include serving as an Associate Editor for Memory and Cognition, journal of the US Psychonomic Society, and she is the current Chair of the European Research Council's advanced grants panel on the Human Mind and its Complexity. Her recent service in Trinity includes serving on the Board of the Institute of Neuroscience, member of the College Audit Committee, Chair of the Senior Promotions Committee for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, and member of the central Senior Promotions Committee.

She currently teaches a foundation module on Thinking to first and second year undergraduates and two advanced modules, one on Human Reasoning and the other on Creative Cognitive, to third and fourth year undergraduates. She supervises final year project students and postgraduate students carrying out research on thinking, reasoning, and imagination. For more details of current projects see

Her BA degree was awarded by the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin in 1983 and her PhD by the University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin in 1987, and she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. Prior to her appointment at Trinity College, she held lectureships in the computer science department at University College Dublin and in the psychology department at the University of Wales at Cardiff.

She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, and of the US Association for Psychological Science.


  • 1991–2019
    Professor, Trinity College Dublin


  • 1987 
    Trinity College Dublin, PhD