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Professor Ruth Byrne is a globally acknowledged leader in the field of Cognitive Psychology. She has made a distinguished scholarly contribution to the field through her research on human reasoning and imagination including experimental and computational investigations of reasoning and imaginative thought.

Her discovery that certain kinds of background knowledge can suppress even the simplest of deductive inferences has generated experimental study worldwide. Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have modelled it to improve the flexibility of reasoning in AI programmes. Her research has also led to important theoretical developments in the characterisation of human reasoning. Professor Byrne’s work on the human imagination provided for the first time an experimentally tested account of the processes underlying a central aspect of imaginative thought, that is, the creation of alternatives to reality. The integrated treatment of imagination and rationality in her 2005 MIT book The rational imagination: how people create alternatives to reality, was noted by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman “as a major contribution to both fields”, i.e. to understanding reason and understanding imagination. Her work has had an impact beyond the discipline of psychology in the areas of philosophy, artificial intelligence and computer science.

Professor Byrne’s remarkable research record includes over 130 substantial scientific articles, consisting of 80 refereed articles in leading international high-impact journals and 50 chapters in refereed edited books. In addition, she has co-authored 3 books and co-edited 4 books. She collaborates with leading researchers in universities worldwide and her prominence as a major voice in the field is indicated by the fact that she has given 65 invited keynote talks at leading international conferences. She has herself organised conferences and symposia in many different countries. 18 PhD students have completed their work under her supervision and many of her former doctoral students now hold academic positions in universities in Ireland, the UK and Australia.

She is Professor of Cognitive Science here at Trinity College Dublin, in the School of Psychology and the Institute of Neuroscience, a chair created for her by the university in 2005. She was Deputy Director of the Institute of Neuroscience in Trinity College from 2009-2015 and the Vice-Provost of Trinity College from 2005 to 2008. She is a Fellow of the US Association for Psychological Science and has been a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 2007.

Professor Byrne is a psychological scientist who has advanced our understanding of the human mind.