Ulrik Beierholm, PhD

I am an Assistant Professor at Durham University, at the Department of Psychology.

I was previously affiliated with University of Birmingham at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics, within the School of Psychology.

My Durham University website is


For up to date news follow the twitter account


6/11/20: New paper, accepted at ICPR with William Prew, Toby Breckon & Magnus Bordewich "Improving Robotic Grasping on Monocular Images Via Multi-Task Learning and Positional Loss" https://arxiv.org/abs/2011.02888

7/9/20: Paper accepted in JoV, together with (deep breath) Rebecca Wedge-Roberts, Stacey Aston, Ulrik Beierholm, Bob Kentridge, Anya Hurlbert, Marko Nardini, Marko and Maria Olkkonen "Specular highlights improve colour constancy when other cues are weakened" http://dro.dur.ac.uk/31950/

13/7/20: New paper, together with Jake Spicer and Adam Sanborn "Using Occam’s razor and Bayesian modelling to compare discrete and continuous representations in numerosity judgements"

20/6/20: New paper in Journal of Vision: "Bayesian transfer in a complex spatial localization task" with Reneta K. Kiryakova, Stacey Aston and Marko Nardini

7/11/19: I am presenting at a colloquium at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics in Tubingen.

7/10/19: New paper out in Neurobiology of Aging, with Sam Jones, David Meijer and Uta Noppeney"Older adults sacrifice response speed to preserve multisensory integration performance"

15/9/19: Presenting at Cognitive Computational Neuroscience 2019: "Explaining Human Auditory Scene Analysis Through Bayesian Clustering" Poster and Suppl poster

4/9/19: Presenting at Basic Auditory Science 2019 meeting: "Explaining Human Auditory Scene Analysis Through Bayesian Clustering"

7/6/19: Nils Kroemer and I have received funding from the Tubingen-Durham Joint Seedcorn Fund for a joint project: "The effects of mood on effort allocation during uncertainty".

21/2/19: Joint paper out online in 'Multisensory Research', "Explaining the Effect of Likelihood Manipulation and Prior Through a Neural Network of the Audiovisual Perception of Space""

13/2/19: New paper with Ursino, Cuppini, Magosso & Shams: "Explaining the effect of likelihood manipulation and prior through a neural network of the audio-visual perception of space", in Multisensory Research

14/11/18: Paper out online in 'PLoS One' with Maliheh Taheri and Pia Rotshtein, "The effect of attachment and environmental manipulations on cooperative behavior in the prisoner’s dilemma game"

26/10/18: Short deadline for a PhD studentship: There may be an opportunity for a 3y PhD studentship on Advanced Quantitative Methods here at Durham Psychology. Deadline early November!

24/10/18 Paper out online in 'Cognition': Brian Odegaard, Jason Carpenter and Ladan Shams, "Prior expectation of objects in space is dependent on the direction of gaze", preprint here

16/4/18: Presenting at FENS Spring Brain Meeting: 'Using the past to estimate sensory uncertainty'.

5/4/18: Paper submitted with Mauro Ursino, Cristiano Cuppini, Elisa Magosso and Ladan Shams , "Explaining the effect of likelihood manipulation and prior through a neural network of the audio-visual perception of space", now out in Multisensory Research.

23/3/18: The Probabilistic Brain Workshop

4/10/17: We are planning a conference in March, the Probabilistic Brain Workshop !

29/8/17: Talk presented at the Crossmodal Learning summer school in Hamburg

28/7/17: Talk presented at CogSci 2017 conference in London, "A non-parametric Bayesian prior for causal inference of auditory streaming" by Tim Yates, Nathanael Larigaldie & Ulrik Beierholm

1/7/17: Min (Susan) Li has joined the lab for the summer, working on an audio-visual motion experiment.

14/6/17: Poster presented at RLDM 2017, Ann Arbour, MI.

22/3/17: Marko Nardini and I have been awarded £250k by the Leverhulme Trust for the project "Learning to perceive and act under uncertainty"!

1/3/17: With Ben Griffiths, “The carrot or the stick: Opposite effects of rewards and punishments on human vigour”, poster presented at CoSyNe 2017

13/2/17: Paper with Ben Griffits, "Opposing effects of reward and punishment on human vigor" is published in Scientific Reports

16/12/16: Open day for our new behavioural lab for multi-sensory integration, exciting!

12/12/16: I presented a talk at Newcastle University, Economics department: "The importance of opportunity costs for human vigour and 'micro-behaviour'"

1/10/16: Welcome to Nathanael Larigaldie who starts as a PhD student at Durham University Psychology Department supervised by Marko Nardini and I!

26/7/16: Paper submitted with Maliheh Taheri and Pia Rotshtein, "Cooperative behaviour in a conflict situation; the effect of attachment and environmental manipulations in the prisoner’s dilemma game"

1/6/16: We are currently working on outfitting our new experimental room with sound proofing, projector and 17 speaker setup.

12/4/2016: Paper published in PLoS Comp Biology with Adam Sanborn, "Fast and Accurate Learning When Making Discrete Numerical Estimates"

25/2/2016: Poster presented at CoSyNe 2016, "Using the past to estimate sensory uncertainty" with Tim Rohe, Oliver Stegle, Uta Noppeney


The purpose of computational neuroscience is to study the computations performed by the brain and the central nervous system.

Implicit in this (by my definition) is the assumption that the brain performs computations i.e. information processing that serves a purpose. The processes in the brain are thus not presumed random but instead serve to somehow improve the conditions for the organism. It is therefore critical when analysing a neurological system to take into account what function it serves.

My own research specifically develops and tests models of optimal information processing in the human brain taking inspiration from both economics and machine learning (two disciplines very focused on optimality!)

To do this I use primarily Bayesian and Reinforcement Learning models to study human behaviour in e.g. perception and decision making, utilising experimental techniques such as psychophysics, fMRI and even pharmacology.

Here is my CV


Ulrik Beierholm

Durham University

Department of Psychology

Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

Email: ulrik dot beierholm at durham dot ac dot uk

Research Gate, Google Scholar, Orchid ID