Professor Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson

University position

Senior Scientist and Programme Leader

Professor Michael Anderson is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit


Home page (personal home page)

Research Theme

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


Dr. Anderson focuses on fundamental mechanisms of memory, attention, and cognitive control, and their interaction. A central observation is that memory, like other aspects of cognition and behaviour, poses problems of control. Dr. Anderson uses behavioural, haemodynamic (fMRI) and electrophysiological (EEG) neuroimaging to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms by which people suppress distracting and unwanted memories. A key focus is on the hypothesis that memory control engages mechanisms involved in suppressing prepotent responses, to down-regulate activity in neural structures that represent past experience, disrupting memory. The project is thus concerned with the role of frontally-mediated inhibitory control mechanisms in both incidental and motivated forgetting. These theoretical issues have direct translational relevance. The program studies healthy volunteers, young and older, and patients with disordered control over memory, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research Focus



Cognitive Control

Prefrontal Cortex



Clinical conditions



Anxiety disorders

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Depressive disorders

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder


Behavioural analysis

Electroencephalography (EEG)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Neuropsychological testing



Tim Dalgleish

Rik Henson

Trevor Robbins

James Rowe

Jon Simons

United Kingdom

Chris Brewin Web:


Teresa Bajo Web:

Silvia Bunge Web:

Mikael Johansson Web:

Elizabeth Kensinger Web:

Mike Posner Web:

Benjamin Storm Web:

Anthony Wagner Web:

Associated News Items

Key publications

Anderson, MC, Henson, RN, Hulbert, JC (2016), “Inducing amnesia through systemic suppression” Nature Communications PDF



Benoit, R., Davies, D.D., Anderson, M.C. (2016), “Reducing future fears by suppressing the brain mechanisms underlying episodic simulation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PDF

Greve, A., Cooper, E., Anderson, M.C. & Henson, R.N. (2016), “Does prediction error drive one-shot declarative learning? ” Journal of Memory and Language

Hellerstedt, R., Johansson, M., & Anderson, M.C. (2016), “Tracking the intrusion of unwanted memories into awareness with event-related potentials. ” Neuropsychologia PDF

Sacchet, M.D., Levy, B.J., Hamilton, J.P., Maksimovskiy, A., Hertel, P., Joormann, J., Anderson, M.C., Wagner, A.D., & Gotlib, I.H. (2016), “Cognitive and neural consequences of memory suppression in major depressive disorder. ” Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. PDF


Anderson, M.C., Bunce, J.G., & Barbas, H. (2015), “Prefrontal–hippocampal pathways underlying inhibitory control over memory” Neurobiology of Learning and Memory PDF

Catarino A, Küpper CS, Werner-Seidler A, Dalgleish T, Anderson MC (2015), “Failing to Forget: Inhibitory-Control Deficits Compromise Memory Suppression in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Psychol Sci PDF Details

Rae, C., Hughes, L., Anderson, M.C., & Rowe, J. (2015), “The prefrontal cortex achieves inhibitory control by facilitating subcortical motor pathway connectivity” Journal of Neuroscience PDF

Strebb, M., Mecklinger, A., Anderson, M.C., Lass-Hennemann, J., & Michael, T. (2015), “Memory control ability predicts reduced posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms after analogue trauma” Journal of Affective Disorders 192, 134-142 PDF

Wimber M, Alink A, Charest I, Kriegeskorte N, Anderson MC (2015), “Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories via cortical pattern suppression.” Nat Neurosci PDF Details

Yang, T., Lei, X., & Anderson, M. (2015), “Decreased inhibitory control of negative information in directed forgetting” International Journal of Psychophysiology PDF


Anderson MC, Hanslmayr S (2014), “Neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting.” Trends Cogn Sci 18(6):279-92 Details

in press

Benoit, R, Hulbert, JC, Huddleston, E, & Anderson, MC (in press), “Adaptive top-down suppression of hippocampal activity and the purging of intrusive memories from consciousness” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

Fawcett, J., Benoit, R., Gagnepain, P., Salman, A., Bartholdy, S., Bardley, C., Chan, D., Roche, A., Brewin, C.R., & Anderson, M.C. (in press), “The origins of repetitive thought in rumination: Separating cognitive styles from deficits in inhibitory control over memory” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry


Gagnepain P, Henson RN, Anderson MC (2014), “Suppressing unwanted memories reduces their unconscious influence via targeted cortical inhibition.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(13):E1310-9 Details

Küpper CS, Benoit RG, Dalgleish T, Anderson MC (2014), “Direct suppression as a mechanism for controlling unpleasant memories in daily life.” J Exp Psychol Gen Details

in press

Murray, B.D., Anderson, M.C., & Kensinger, E.A. (in press), “Older adults can suppress unwanted memories when given an appropriate strategy” Psychology and Aging


Rae CL, Hughes LE, Weaver C, Anderson MC, Rowe JB (2014), “Selection and stopping in voluntary action: a meta-analysis and combined fMRI study.” Neuroimage 86:381-91 Details

Schilling CJ, Storm B, & Anderson MC (2014), “Examining the Costs and Benefits of Inhibition in Memory Retrieval” Cognition 133: 358-370


Bergström ZM, Anderson MC, Buda M, Simons JS, Richardson-Klavehn A (2013), “Intentional retrieval suppression can conceal guilty knowledge in ERP memory detection tests.” Biol Psychol 94(1):1-11 Details

Paz-Alonso PM, Bunge SA, Anderson MC, Ghetti S (2013), “Strength of Coupling within a mnemonic control network differentiates those who can and cannot suppress memory retrieval.” J Neurosci 33(11):5017-26 Details

van Schie K, Geraerts E, Anderson MC (2013), “Emotional and non-emotional memories are suppressible under direct suppression instructions.” Cogn Emot 27(6):1122-31 Details

Weller PD, Anderson MC, Gómez-Ariza CJ, Bajo MT (2013), “On the status of cue independence as a criterion for memory inhibition: evidence against the covert blocking hypothesis.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 39(4):1232-45 Details


Anderson MC, Huddleston E (2012), “Towards a cognitive and neurobiological model of motivated forgetting.” Nebr Symp Motiv 58:53-120 Details

Benoit RG, Anderson MC (2012), “Opposing mechanisms support the voluntary forgetting of unwanted memories.” Neuron 76(2):450-60 Details

Huddleston E, Anderson MC (2012), “Reassessing critiques of the independent probe method for studying inhibition.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 38(5):1408-18 Details

Levy BJ, Anderson MC (2012), “Purging of memories from conscious awareness tracked in the human brain.” J Neurosci 32(47):16785-94 Details


Anderson MC, Reinholz J, Kuhl BA, Mayr U (2011), “Intentional suppression of unwanted memories grows more difficult as we age.” Psychol Aging 26(2):397-405 Details

Goodmon LB, Anderson MC (2011), “Semantic integration as a boundary condition on inhibitory processes in episodic retrieval.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 37(2):416-36 Details

Hulbert JC, Shivde G, Anderson MC (2011), “Evidence Against Associative Blocking as a Cause of Cue-Independent Retrieval-Induced Forgetting.” Exp Psychol :1-11 Details

Kuhl BA, Anderson MC (2011), “More is not always better: paradoxical effects of repetition on semantic accessibility.” Psychon Bull Rev 18(5):964-72 Details

Shivde G, Anderson MC (2011), “On the existence of semantic working memory: Evidence for direct semantic maintenance.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn Details


Garcia-Bajos E, Migueles M, Anderson MC (2009), “Script knowledge modulates retrieval-induced forgetting for eyewitness events.” Memory 17(1):92-103 Details

Paz-Alonso PM, Ghetti S, Matlen BJ, Anderson MC, Bunge SA (2009), “Memory suppression is an active process that improves over childhood.” Front Hum Neurosci 3:24 Details


Flegal KE, Anderson MC (2008), “Overthinking skilled motor performance: or why those who teach can't do.” Psychon Bull Rev 15(5):927-32 Details

Levy BJ, Anderson MC (2008), “Individual differences in the suppression of unwanted memories: the executive deficit hypothesis.” Acta Psychol (Amst) 127(3):623-35 Details


Levy BJ, McVeigh ND, Marful A, Anderson MC (2007), “Inhibiting your native language: the role of retrieval-induced forgetting during second-language acquisition.” Psychol Sci 18(1):29-34 Details


Anderson MC, Ochsner KN, Kuhl B, Cooper J, Robertson E, Gabrieli SW, Glover GH, Gabrieli JD (2004), “Neural systems underlying the suppression of unwanted memories.” Science 303(5655):232-5 Details

Johnson SK, Anderson MC (2004), “The role of inhibitory control in forgetting semantic knowledge.” Psychol Sci 15(7):448-53 Details


Anderson MC (2003), “Rethinking interference theory: Executive control and the mechanisms of forgetting” Journal of Memory and Language


Anderson MC, Levy B (2002), “Repression can (and should) be studied empirically.” Trends Cogn Sci 6(12):502-503 Details

Levy BJ, Anderson MC (2002), “Inhibitory processes and the control of memory retrieval.” Trends Cogn Sci 6(7):299-305 Details


Anderson MC, Bell T (2001), “Forgetting our facts: the role of inhibitory processes in the loss of propositional knowledge.” J Exp Psychol Gen 130(3):544-70 Details

Anderson MC, Green C (2001), “Suppressing unwanted memories by executive control.” Nature 410(6826):366-9 Details


Anderson MC, Bjork EL, Bjork RA (2000), “Retrieval-induced forgetting: evidence for a recall-specific mechanism.” Psychon Bull Rev 7(3):522-30 Details


Anderson MC, Spellman BA (1995), “On the status of inhibitory mechanisms in cognition: memory retrieval as a model case.” Psychol Rev 102(1):68-100 Details


Anderson, M.C., Bjork, R.A., & Bjork, E.L. (1994), “Remembering can cause forgetting: Retrieval dynamics in long-term memory. ” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 20, 1063-1087