Gillian Forrester

Professor of Comparative Cognition

Department of Psychological Sciences,
Birkbeck, University of London,
Malet Street, London

tel: +44 (0) 207 631 6209

Twitter: @ForresterGilly

Personal research web page:

Department page:



Gilly is a Professor of Comparative Cognition and the Deputy Dean for the School of Science at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the director of the Comparative Cognition Group investigating the behaviours and brain organisation of children, gorillas and chimpanzees focusing on how cognitive abilities evolve and develop over time and across species. Her current research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Gilly is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority and a former Daphne Jackson Trust Research Fellow. She is the founder and director of the Me, Human project (, @Me__Human) through which regularly engages in public outreach and education and advocates for women and girls in science. Through the Me, Human project Gilly collaborates with the public to investigate and educate about human cognition by hosting talks and live demonstrations (e.g. Live Science, Psyched!). She has featured on radio (BBC Radio 4, BBC Local); TV (BBC4, CNN, Reuters, BBC South East); science podcasts (e.g. Level Up Human, BBC Crowd Science); has written articles published by: The Conversation, Discover Magazine, Psychology Today, Early Years Educator, Autism Parenting Magazine; and has had her research featured in The Washington Post, Discover Magazine and The Scientist Magazine.





Bardo, A. and Kivell, T. and Town, K. and Donati, Georgina and Ballieux, H. and Stamate, Cosmin and Edginton, T. and Forrester, Gillian (2021) Get a grip: variation in human hand grip strength and implications for human evolution. Symmetry 13 (7), pp. 1142. ISSN 2073-8994.

Donati, G. and Forrester, Gillian (2021) Hindsight 20/20: the future of laterality research. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition ISSN 1357-650X. (In Press)

Forrester, Gillian and Davis, Rachael and Malatesta, Gianluca and Todd, Brenda (2020) Evolutionary motor biases and cognition in children with and without autism. Scientific Reports 10 (17385), ISSN 2045-2322.

Donati, Georgina and Davis, Rachael and Forrester, Gillian (2020) Gaze behaviour to lateral face stimuli in infants who do and do not gain an ASD diagnosis. Scientific Reports 10 (13185), ISSN 2045-2322.

Malatesta, G. and Marzoli, D. and Apicella, F. and Abiuso, C. and Muratori, F. and Forrester, Gillian and Vallortigara, G. and Scattoni, M.L. and Tommasi, L. (2020) Received cradling bias during the first year of life: A retrospective study on children with typical and atypical development. Frontiers in Psychiatry 11 , ISSN 1664-0640.

Forrester, Gillian and Davis, R. and Mareschal, Denis and Malatesta, G. and Todd, B. (2018) The left cradling bias: an evolutionary facilitator of social cognition? Cortex , ISSN 0010-9452.

Forrester GS, Todd B, Davis R, Malastrata G, Mareschal D (in press) The Left Cradling Bias: An Evolutionary Facilitator of Social Cognition?, Cortex (Special Issue: The Evolution of the Mind and the Brain (eds, Zilles & Thiebaut de Schotten) online first.

Forrester GS, Todd B (in press) Comparative approaches to lateral biases in social behaviour: a new perspective, Progress in Brain Research Book Series Volume 238, Cerebral Lateralization and Cognition: Evolutionary and Developmental Investigations of Motor Biases (Series Volume Editors, GS Forrester, K Hudry, A Lindell & WD Hopkins)

Forrester GS (2017) Hand, limb and other motor preferences: Methodological Considerations (eds. G Vallortigara, L Rogers) In: Lateralized Brain Functions (Series on Neuromethods, series editor, Walz W) Springer Books.

Forrester GS, Rawlings B, Davila-Ross M (2016) An analysis of bimanual actions in natural feeding of semi-wild chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159:85-92

Forrester GS, Thomas MSC (2015) What is universal and what differs in language development? Commentary, Language, Cognition & Neuroscience 30(8):922-927.

Forrester GS, Rodriguez A (2015) Slip of the tongue: Implications for evolution and language development. Cognition 141:103-111.

Forrester GS, Crawley M, Palmer C (2014) Social environment elicits lateralized navigational behavior in two populations of typically developing children. Brain and Cognition 91:21-27.

Forrester GS, Pegler R, Thomas MSC, Mareschal D (2014) Handedness as a marker of cerebral lateralization in children with and without autism. Behavioural Brain Research 268:14-21.

Quaresmini C, Forrester GS, Spiezio C, Vallortigara G (2014) Social environment elicits lateralized behaviors in gorillas and chimpanzees. Journal of Comparative Psychology 128(3): 276-284.

(3) Forrester GS, Quaresmini C, Leavens DA, Mareschal D, Thomas MSC (2013) Human handedness: An inherited evolutionary trait. Behavioural Brain Research 237:200-206.

Tabiowo E, Forrester GS (2013) Structured bimanual actions and hand transfers reveal population-level right-handedness in captive gorillas. Animal Behaviour 86(5):1049-1057.

Forrester GS, Quaresmini C (2013) In: Behavioural Lateralization in Vertebrates- Two Sides of a Same Coin (eds. Regolin, Csermely) The Right Hand Man: Manual Laterality and Language pp. 125-141. Springer Berlin Heidelberg

Forrester, G.S., Quaresmini, C., Leavens, D.S., Spiezio, C., Vallortigara, G.  (2012). Target animacy influences chimpanzee handedness. Animal Cognition. 15(6):1121-7.

Forrester GS, Leavens DA, Quaresmini C, Vallortigara G (2011) Target animacy influences gorilla handedness. Animal Cognition 14(6) 903-907.

Quaresmini C, Forrester GS, Spiezio C, Leavens DA, Vallortigara G (2011) Gorillas and chimpanzees vary handedness based on the animacy of target objects: A theory for hemispheric specialization based on an evolutionary distinction of object animacy. Folia Primatologica 82(4-5): 264.

Forrester GS (2008) A multidimensional approach to investigations of behaviour: Revealing structure in animal communication signals. Animal Behaviour 76: 1749-1760.

Forrester GS (2008) A multidimensional approach to investigations of primate communication. Folia Primatologica 79(5):329-330.

Forrester GS, Forrester NA (2005) Methodology for detecting multimodal communication in western lowland gorillas. American Journal of Primatology 66(1):167.

Nobre AC, Sebestyen G, Gitelman DR, Mesulam MM (2002) Filtering of distractors during visual search studied by positron emission tomography. Neuroimage 16:968-976.

Nobre AC, Sebestyen G, Miniussi C (2000) The dynamics of shifting visuospatial attention revealed by event-related potentials. Neuropsychologia 38:964-974.

Nobre AC, Sebestyen G, Gitelman DR, Mesulam MM, Frackowiak RSJ, Frith CD (1997) Functional localisation of the neural network for visual spatial attention by positron-emission tomography. Brain 120:515-533.

Nobre AC, Mesulam MM, Sebestyen G, Frackowiak RSJ, Frith CD (1996) Functional localisation of the neural network for visual spatial attention by positron-emission tomography. Neuroimage 3(3):S192.

Pineda JA, Sebestyen G, Nava C (1994) Face recognition as a function of social attention in non-human primates: an ERP study. Cognitive Brain Research, 2:1-12.