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Trinity College Dublin


Dr Robert Whelan

*Dr Whelan is now with the University College Dublin. He can be contacted at

Biographical Information

Robert Whelan was awarded a 1st class honours BA (Applied Psychology) from University College Cork in 2001, and received an international award for his final-year research project (Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior Special Interest Group). Later that year, he began a PhD in psychology at the National University of Maynooth, funded by a scholarship from the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences. He completed his PhD in psychology in late 2004, receiving the award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Social Science from NUI, Maynooth. He has worked as a Research Fellow in University College Dublin studying cognitive functioning in multiple sclerosis.

Dr Whelan is currently a Senior Research Scientist in the Neural Engineering group at the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering. He is the coordinator and lead scientist on the Longitudinal Multidimensional Multiple Sclerosis Project and is a co-investigator on a Health Research Board/Dystonia Ireland Partnership Award. He is also involved with the IMAGEN project, with specific responsibility for the analysis of data related to the Stop-Signal Task.

Recent news

  • FASTER v1.2 has been released on Sourceforge. This version of FASTER is fully integrated with EEGLAB. You can get it here

Research Interests

The general theme of my research is to utilize a combination of several methodologies (e.g., genotyping, neuropsychology, MRI, and EEG) to better understand brain functioning in health and disease.

  • Brain structure and function in Neurological disorders (collaborating with the Neurology Department) of St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin 4.
    • Neuropsychological function in Multiple Sclerosis. Some information on MS.
    • Processing of temporal information in Parkinson's Disease, in conjunction with Dr David Bradley. Some information on PD.
    • Processing of temporal information as a possible endophenotype for Dystonia. Some information on Dystonia and a link to the Dystonia Ireland website.
  • Development of algorithms for fully automated analysis of EEG data (in conjunction with Hugh Nolan).
  • In collaboration with Professor Hugh Garavan, I am currently involved in an ongoing FP7 project – IMAGEN – a multi-centre structural and functional genetic-neuroimaging study of a cohort of over 2,000 14 year-old adolescents.
  • Behavior Analysis. This research focuses on topics such as derived relations, temporal discounting (in collaboration with Dr Louise Mc Hugh), and the role of consequences in human learning. Current research includes the development of the relational completion procedure (RCP) in conjunction Dr Simon Dymond, with the particular aim of efficiently teaching language to individuals with autism.
  • Multisensory integration, specifically vestibular/visual integration (in conjunction with Hugh Nolan and Dr John Butler).

Free Research Software

  • FASTER is a fully automated, unsupervised method for processing of high density EEG data (see reference below).
  • The version of the RCP program used in Dymond & Whelan (2010) can be downloaded as a zip file or as a sit file. A read me file is included.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Up to August 2011
  1. Dymond, S., Schlund, M.W., Roche, B., Whelan, R., Richards, J., Davies, C. (in press). Inferred threat and safety: Symbolic generalization of human avoidance learning. Behavior Research and Therapy.
  2. Kimmich O., Bradley, D., Whelan R., Mulrooney N., Reilly, R.B., Hutchinson, S., O’Riordan S., & Hutchinson, M. (in press). Sporadic adult onset primary torsion dystonia is a genetic disorder by the temporal discrimination test. Brain.
  3. Bradley, D., Whelan R., Kimmich O., O’Riordan S., Mulrooney N., Brady P., Walsh, R., Reilly, R.B., Hutchinson, S., Molloy, F., & Hutchinson, M. Temporal discrimination thresholds in adult-onset primary torsion dystonia: an analysis by task type and by dystonia phenotype. Journal of Neurology, DOI 10.1007/s00415-011-6125-7
  4. Kiiski, H., Reilly, R.B., Lonergan, R., Kelly, S., O'Brien, M., Kinsella, K., Bramham, J., Burke, E.T., O’Donnchadha, S., Nolan, H., Hutchinson, M., Tubridy, N, & Whelan*, R. (2011). Change in PASAT performance correlates with change in P3 ERP amplitude over a 12-month period in multiple sclerosis patients. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 305, 45-52. *Corresponding author. Click for paper.
  5. Wang, T., McHugh, L., Dack, C., & Whelan, R. (2011). Preserved Nodal Number Effects under Equal Reinforcement. Learning and Behavior, 39, 224-238. Paper here.
  6. Kiiski, H., Whelan*, R., Lonergan, R., Nolan, H., Kinsella, K., Hutchinson, M., Tubridy, N., Reilly, R.B. Preliminary Evidence for Correlation Between PASAT Performance and P3a and P3b amplitudes in progressive multiple sclerosis. (2011). European Journal of Neurology, 18, 792-795. *Corresponding author. Abstract and paper here.
  7. Nolan, H., Butler, J.S., Whelan, R., Foxe, J.J., Bulthoff, H.H., & Reilly, R.B. Electrophysiological source analysis of passive self-motion. (2011). Proceedings of Neural Engineering 5th International IEEE/EMBS Conference, pp. 53 – 56.
  8. Nolan, H., Whelan*, R., & Reilly, R.B. FASTER: Fully Automated Statistical Thresholding for EEG artifact Rejection. (2010). Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 192, 152-162. *Joint 1st author and corresponding author. Get the code here and the article here.
  9. Whelan, R., Lonergan, R., Kiiski, H., Nolan, H., Kinsella, K., Hutchinson, M., Tubridy, N., & Reilly, R.B. (2010). Impaired information processing speed and attention allocation in multiple sclerosis patients versus controls: A high-density EEG study. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 293, 45-50. Click for paper.
  10. Whelan, R., Lonergan, R., Kiiski, H., Nolan, H., Kinsella, K., Bramham, J., O'Brien, M., Reilly, R.B., Hutchinson, M., & Tubridy, N. (2010). A high-density ERP study reveals latency, amplitude, and topographical differences in multiple sclerosis patients versus controls. Clinical Neurophysiology, 121, 1420-1426. Click for paper.
  11. Dymond, S., & Whelan, R. (2010). Derived relational responding: A comparison of matching to sample and the relational completion procedure. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 94, 37-55. Paper here.
  12. Whelan R. & Barnes-Holmes D. (2010). Consequence Valuing as Operation and Process: A Parsimonious Analysis of Motivation. The Psychological Record, 60, 337-354. Click for paper.
  13. Bradley D, Whelan R, Walsh R, O'Dwyer J, Reilly R, Hutchinson S, Molloy F, Hutchinson M. Comparing endophenotypes in adult-onset primary torsion dystonia. Mov Disord. 2010 Jan 15;25(1):84-90. Click for paper.
  14. Bradley, D., Whelan, R., Walsh, R., Reilly, R.B., Hutchinson, S., Molloy, F., & Hutchinson, M. (2009). Discrimination Threshold: VBM evidence for an endophenotype in adult onset primary torsion dystonia. Brain. Click for paper.
  15. Walsh R., Whelan R., O'Dwyer J.P., O'Riordan S., Hutchinson S., O'Laoide R., Malone K., Reilly R., & Hutchinson M. Striatal morphology correlates with sensory abnormalities in unaffected relatives of cervical dystonia patients. Journal of Neurology. 2009 Aug;256(8):1307-13. Click for paper.
  16. Whelan, R., & McHugh, L.A. (2009). Temporal Discounting of Hypothetical Monetary Rewards by Adolescents, Adults, and Older Adults. The Psychological Record, 59(2), 247-258. Click for paper.
  17. Nolan, H.; Whelan, R.; Reilly, R.B.; Bulthoff, H.H.; Butler, J.S. (2009). Acquisition of human EEG data during linear self-motion on a Stewart platform. Neural Engineering Conference Proceedings. pp. 585-588.
  18. Whelan, R. (2008). Effective Analysis of Reaction Time Data. The Psychological Record, 58, 475-482. Click for paper.
  19. Dymond, S., Roche, B., Forsyth, J., Whelan, R., Rhoden, J. (2008). Derived avoidance learning: Transformation of avoidance response functions in accordance with same and opposite relational frames. The Psychological Record, 58, 271-288. Click for paper.
  20. Whelan, R. (2008). In Response: Psychology Is A Behavioral Science, Not A Biological Science, By Gary Greenberg And Charles Lambdin - Correct Conclusion, Unsound Arguments. The Psychological Record, 58, 317–320. Click for paper.
  21. Whelan, R. (2007). Aversive control in humans: The role of verbal processes. Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis, 33, 67-75.
  22. McHugh, L., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., Whelan, R., Stewart, I. (2007). Knowing me, knowing you: Deictic complexity in false-belief understanding. The Psychological Record, 57, 533-542
  23. Dymond, S., Roche, B., Forsyth, J., Whelan, R., Rhoden, J. (2007). Transformation of avoidance response functions in accordance with same and opposite relational frames. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 88, 249-262.
  24. Dymond, S. & Whelan, R. (2007). Verbal relations and the behavior analysis of gambling. The Analysis of Gambling Behavior, 1, 19-20.
  25. Whelan, R., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Dymond, S. (2006). The Transformation of Consequential Functions in Accordance with the Relational Frames of More-than and Less-than. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 86, 317-335.
  26. Dymond, S., O'Hora, D., Whelan, R., & O'Donovan, A. (2006). Citation analysis of Skinner's Verbal Behavior: 1984-2004. The Behavior Analyst, 29, 75-88.
  27. Whelan, R., Cullinan, V., O'Donovan, A., Rodríguez Valverde, M. (2005). Derived Same and Opposite Relations Produce Association and Mediated Priming. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy 5, 247-264.
  28. Barnes-Holmes, D., Staunton, C., Whelan, R., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Commins, S., Walsh, D., Stewart, I., Smeets, P. M., & Dymond, S. (2005). Derived stimulus relations, semantic priming, and event-related potentials: Testing a behavioral theory of semantic networks. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 84, 417-433.
  29. Barnes-Holmes, D., Regan, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Commins, S., Walsh, D., Stewart, I., Smeets, P. M., Whelan, R., & Dymond, S. (2005). Relating derived relations as a model of analogical reasoning: Reaction times and event related potentials. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 84, 435-452.
  30. Dymond, S., Whelan, R., & Smeets, P. M. (2005). A transformation of discriminative functions in accordance with equivalence relations. European Journal of Behaviour Analysis, 6, 111-123. Click for abstract.
  31. Barnes-Holmes, D., Rodríguez Valverde, M., & Whelan, R. (2005) Relational Frame Theory and the Experimental Analysis of Language and Cognition. The Latin-American Journal of Psychology, 37, 255-275.
  32. Reilly, T., Whelan*, R., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2005). The effect of training structure on the latency of responses to a five-term linear chain. The Psychological Record, 55, pp. 233-249. *Corresponding author. Click for paper
  33. Whelan, R., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). The Transformation of Consequential Functions in Accordance with the Relational Frames of Same and Opposite. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 82, 177-196.
  34. Barnes-Holmes, D., Staunton, C., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Whelan, R., Stewart, I., Commins, S., Walsh, D., Smeets, P.M., & Dymond, S. (2004). Interfacing relational frame theory with cognitive neuroscience: Semantic priming, the implicit association test, and event related potentials. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 4, 215-240. Click for paper.
  35. Whelan, R. & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). Empirical models of formative augmenting in accordance with the relational frames of Same, Opposite, More-than and Less-than. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 4, 285-302.
Page last modified on November 09, 2014
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