Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies

Faculty and Staff

News and Events


Online Forms

Job Postings

Contact Us
















Rita Anderson

Room Number: SN3080
Telephone: (709) 737-8771
Unit: Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology/Cognition

Research Interests                                                        PRS Registration


Rita Anderson



I am interested in the cognition of human and nonhuman animals. Most of my recent research in human cognition has focussed on how mental imagery can be used to make discoveries and solve problems in the visual-spatial domain. For example, I and my students have investigated how the availability of perceptual support and drawing,  mental load (e.g., working memory), and the balance between the strategic and automatic processes involved in visual imagery affect performance in mental synthesis, a task that requires people to mentally combine simple shapes to create novel, yet recognizable figures.  We have also examined  the influence of individual differences in visual imagery and cognitive development on performance in the mental synthesis and other mental discovery tasks.

My research focuses on the cognitive aspects of communication and social behaviour of nonhuman animals, especially wolves (Canis lupus). In the past few years, I and various students have been involved in the development of a motivationally-neutral coding system for use in frame by frame coding of video tapes of social interactions between wolves. This system has been used to examine the visual and postural cues diagnostic of adult wolf play and aggression. Other wolf research has focused on the close-range squeaking vocalization. In addition, other students in my lab have investigated nosing behaviour and flipper slapping in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and diet in free-ranging otters (Lutra canadensis).


Schenkel, R (1947/1999). A study on expression in wolves: Observations in captivity. Behaviour, 1, 81 - 129. [I commissioned and coordinated this new translation by U. Zuschlag & F. Morgenstern]

Anderson, R. E. (1999). Some thoughts on psychologic. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 40, 19 - 22.

Anderson, R. E. (1998). Imagery and spatial representation. In W. Bechtel & G. Graham (Eds.), Companion to Cognitive Science (pp. 204 - 211). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

B. Roskos-Ewoldsen, M. J. Intons-Peterson, & Anderson, R. E. (1993). Imagery, creativity and discovery: A cognitive perspective. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Conference Presentations

Anderson, R. E. et al (2002). HYPERWOLF v 2.0 [This is motivationally-neutral, annotated coding system designed for the frame-by-frame video analysis of wolf social interactions. This web-based version is suitable for use by specialists in canid behaviour and others, such as veterinarians; anticipated public release, Spring 2002.]

Anderson, R. E. (2001, April). Using talk aloud and drawing protocols to explore on-line processing in mental synthesis. Poster: 8th European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition (EWIC 2001), Saint Malo, France. [View Abstract]

Anderson, R. E. & Paterson, H. (2000, July). Creating and discovering figures using mental imagery. Invited paper: Symposium on Mental Imagery and Visuospatial Working Memory at the XXVII International Congress of Psychology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Anderson, R. E. & Paterson, H. (2000, Nov.). Young children can use mental imagery productively. Paper: 41st Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA. [View Abstract]

Anderson, R. E. (1999, July) Image reconstrual and mental synthesis: What is the difference? Paper: 7th European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition, Windsor Great Park, England. [View Abstract]

Weir, J. N. & Anderson, R. E. (1999, June). Individual and contextual variation in the squeaking vocalizations of wolves (Canis lupus). Poster: Annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, Lewisburg, PA. [View Abstract]

Jeans, D. & Anderson, R. E. (1998, June). If I hear it, will I see it? Cross-modal priming of ambiguous figures. Poster: 8th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science, Ottawa, ON.

 Copyright 2006.  Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland.