The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. More

Research Experts Search

In this search you can find faculty members in a particular area of research, or browse the wide variety of research happening at the U of M.

Our faculty members have maintained information about their research expertise and interests, current teaching areas and other activities. They manage their information from the My Research Tools (MRT) website. More information about MRT is available Visit Research tools here.

Search Criteria

Kelly, Debbie M.

Professor, Psychology

Professor, Biological Sciences

Research Affiliate, Centre on Aging


Home Page:


Keyword Discipline

Animal Behaviour


Animal Cognition

Behavioral/Social Sciences

Behavioral/Experimental Psychology

Behavioral/Social Sciences

Biological Sciences


Cognitive Neuroscience

Behavioral/Social Sciences

Evolutionary Biology




Research Description

In my lab, we take a comparative approach to the study of cognition and biology. We use behavioural, neurophysiological, and naturalistic techniques to study important cognitive processes like spatial navigation and sociality. By studying a wide-variety of species, we aim to better understand the brain, behaviour, and evolution.


Spatial cognition refers to how an individual encodes the properties of its environment in order to orient and navigate. This is an essential ability for ambulatory animals (including humans) to locate food, mates, and home. Our lab studies what stimuli are important for re-orientation and navigation and how the preferential use of these stimuli change across species, age, and sex. We explore the biological and cognitive mechanisms underlying this ability, and what they mean for theories of navigation. Some examples of the kinds of research questions related to spatial cognition that we ask in our lab are:

How are featural and geometric cues used to guide reorientation?

How do Clark's nutcrackers locate their tens of thousands of seed caches?

How does Alzheimer's disease affect navigation ability in older adults?


Living in large social groups has traditionally been thought to be the primary evolutionary precursor to complex cognitive abilities. This assumption was based on the impressive cognitive abilities of social living species. However, rarely have non-social species been studied. Our lab investigates how the sociality of a species influences the behaviour and cognitive abilities of our study species. Work conducted on this topic in our lab has included:

How do the food cache-protection strategies of social and non-social birds differ?

How does sociality influence cognitive abilities such as Same/Different discrimination?

What are the prerequisites and mechanisms of mirror self-recognition?

Currently Recruiting Graduate Students

Potential graduate students should contact the appropriate Faculty.


The information in this directory is provided as a service to the University Community and anyone with legitimate business with the University. Use of this directory to prepare mass mailings is prohibited.