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Indiana University Bloomington

William Timberlake

Dr. William Timberlake

Professor Emeritus


timberla [at]

lab: Behavioral Systems and Learning Lab
   PY A404 | (812)855-8003


Animal behavior and learning behavior theory; regulatory processes; behavior systems analyses of learning; circadian anticipation of food and addictive drugs; neural bases of general search behavior; time horizons

Educational Background

  • 1964 - B.A., Pomona College
  • 1967 - M.A., University of Michigan
  • 1969 - Ph.D., University of Michigan

Areas of Study

  • Animal Behavior
  • Neural Science
  • Cognitive Science

Research Topics

  • Behavior systems analyses of learning paradigms, phenomena, and theories
  • Spatial and temporal control of search behavior
  • Circadian anticipation of addictive drugs and food
  • Behavior systems and repetitive behaviors

Research Summary:

Dr. Timberlake studies learning and behavior within a general framework of behavior systems that calls attention to overall functional organization and evolutionary history as well as local mechanisms of processing and regulation. Dr. Timberlake's long-term goal is an approach sufficiently general to apply across species and sufficiently specific to make contact with the evolution and genetic makeup of particular species and individuals. Specific research topics include patterns of regulation in feeding and drinking, circadian and ultradian behavioral rhythms, time horizons in foraging, the interaction of conditioning and regulatory processes in feeding, Pavlovian conditioning as a tool for investigating the structures and processes underlying the appetitive-consummatory dimension of behavior, backward conditioning and system differences in learning and regulation. For reasons of history and convenience, most current work involves rats and pigeons.


Representative Publications

2004 - Timberlake, W. Trends in Pavlovian conditioning. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 17, 119-130.

2004 - Timberlake, W. Is the operant contingency enough for a science of behavior? Behavior and Philosophy, 32, 197-229.

2003 - Timberlake, W. Talking with Alex: An Essay on Pepperberg's: "The Alex Studies." Semiotica, 146, 441-473.

2002 - Timberlake, W. Niche-related learning in laboratory paradigms: The case of maze behavior in laboratory rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 134, 355-374.

2002 - Tinsley M.R., Timberlake, W., Sitomer, M., & Widman, D.R. Conditioned inhibitory effects of discriminated Pavlovian training with food are related to search modes and their repertoires. Animal Learning & Behavior, 30, 217-227.

2002 - Timberlake, W., & Hoffman, C.M. How does the ecological foraging behavior of desert kangaroo rats (Dipodomys deserti) relate to their behavior on radial mazes? Animal Learning & Behavior, 30, 342-354.

2002 - Timberlake, W. Constructing animal cognition. In C.Allen, M. Bekoff, & G. Burghardt (Eds.), The Cognitive Animal. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

2001 - Tinsley, M.R., Rebec, G.V., & Timberlake, W. Facilitation of efficient search of an unbaited radial-arm maze in rats by D1, but not D2, dopamine receptors. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 70, 181-186.

2001 - Timberlake, W. Motivational modes in behavior systems. In R.R. Mowrer and S.B. Klein (Eds.), Handbook of contemporary learning theories (pp. 155-209). Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum Associates.