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Department of Psychology


My research through Postdoc (Cambridge University, 2015-date), PhD (Vienna University, 2012-2016), Research Assistant (Auckland University, 2011; Edinburgh Zoo roles, 2008-2010) and MSc (St Andrews University, 2010-2011) posts has focused on examining the evolution of cognition, primarily in birds and humans. My research in comparative psychology and behavioural ecology has resulted in a productive academic output, taking account of 2-years of maternity leave and part-time working: 27 publications, with an h-index of 13 and 705 citations.

In parallel, I have a strong interest in animal conservation with a background of skills, knowledge and practical experience in animal welfare, training and conservation, through my roles at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Edinburgh Zoo as Avian Research Coordinator, Animal Keeper and Animal Trainer, including a conservation trip to Uganda, education trip to Zambia, and Animal Management degree.

For more information:


Comparative Psychology | Behavioural Ecology | Cognition in Animal Conservation

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate/ Lab Manager at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. I am broadly interested in the evolution of cognition. Key aspects of my PhD in Cognitive Biology from the University of Vienna involved highlighting the critical role of individual differences, social context and development on cognition in wild and captive corvids (members of the crow family). My Postdoc research focuses on comparative and developmental approaches to testing cognition in humans - both children and adults - and corvids, with a particular focus on self-control, behavioural flexibility, responses to novelty, social learning and reasoning about cause and effect. In addition, I am working to establish an independent project as PI exploring applications of cognition research for conservation purposes in a critically endangered bird species, and with a team of early career researchers, to set-up a "ManyBirds" multi-site collaborative project on avian cognition research. I advocate Open Science practices, including publishing all data-sets associated with my papers, and (from Nov 2018) I pre-register my studies.

My website:


Key publications: 


Miller R, Schiestl M, Clayton NS. (Accepted) Chapter: Welfare in Corvids. 9th Ed of Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Handbook on Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. Wiley


Boeckle M, Schiestl M, Frohnwieser A, Gruber R, Miller R, Suddendorf T, Gray RD, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2020) New Caledonian crows flexibly plan for specific future tool use. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 287: 20201490 

Miller R, Frohnwieser A, Ding N, Troisi C, Schiestl M, Gruber R, Taylor, AH, Jelbert, SA, Boeckle M, Clayton NS (2020) A novel test of flexible planning in relation to executive function and language in young children. Royal Society Open Science 7: 71-85

Miller R and Gruber R, Frohnwieser A, Schiestl M, Jelbert SA, Gray RD, Boeckle M, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2020) Decision-making flexibility in New Caledonian crows, young children and adult humans in a multi-dimensional tool-use task. PLoS ONE 15: e0219874

Kövér L & Lengyel S, Takenaka M, Kirchmeir A, Uhl F, Miller R, Schwab C. (2019) Why do zoos attract crows? A comparative study from Europe and Asia. Ecology and Evolution 00: 1-11

Miller R, Frohnwieser A, Schiestl M, McCoy DE, Gray RD, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2019) Delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and young children: influence of reward type and visibility. Animal Cognition doi: 10.1007/s10071-019-01317-7

Miller R, Boeckle M, Frohnwieser A, Jelbert SA, Wascher, CAF, Clayton NS. (2019) Self-control in crows, parrots and non-human primatesWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science e1504

Gruber R, Schiestl M, Boeckle M, Frohnwieser A, Miller R, Gray RD, Clayton NS, Taylor AH. (2019) New Caledonian crows use mental representations to solve metatool problems. Current Biology 29: 686-692

Jelbert SA, Miller R, Schiestl M, Boeckle M, Cheke LG, Gray RD, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2019) New Caledonian crows infer the weight of objects from their movements in a breeze. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 20182332

Uhl F, Ringler M, Miller R, Deventer S, Bugnyar T, Schwab C. (2018) Counting crows: population structure and group size variation in an urban population of crows. Behavioural Ecology ary 157

Miller R, Jelbert SA, Loissel E, Taylor AH, Clayton NS (2017) Young children do not require perceptual-motor feedback to solve Aesop’s Fable tasks. Peer J 5:e3483

Davidson G, Miller R, Loissel E, Cheke LG, Clayton NS (2017) The development of support intuitions and object causality in juvenile Eurasian jays. Scientific Reports 7:40062

Miller R, Jelbert SA, Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Gray RD, Loissel E, Clayton NS (2016) Performance in object-choice Aesop’s Fable tasks are influenced by object biases in New Caledonian crows but not in human children. PLoS ONE 11:e0168056

Miller R, Logan CJ, Lister K, Clayton NS (2016). Eurasian jays do not copy the choices of conspecifics, but they do show evidence of stimulus enhancement. Peer J 4:e2746

Deventer SA, Uhl F, Bugnyar T, Miller R, Fitch WT, Schiestl M, Ringler M, Schwab C (2016) Behavioural type affects space use in a wild population of crows. Ethology 122:881-891

Miller R, Schwab C, Bugnyar T (2016) Explorative innovators and flexible use of social information in common ravens and carrion crows. Journal of Comparative Psychology doi:10.1037/com0000039

Miller R, Laskowski KL, Schiestl M, Bugnyar T, Schwab C (2016) Socially driven consistent behavioural differences during development in common ravens and carrion crows. PLoS ONE 11:e0148822

Miller R, Bugnyar T, Pölzl K, Schwab C (2015) Differences in exploration behaviour in common ravens and carrion crows during development and across social context. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 69:1209-20

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, Meltzoff A, Miller R, Gopnik A, Clayton NS, Gray RD (2015) No conclusive evidence that corvids can create novel causal interventions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282:20150796

Knaebe B, Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2015) New Caledonian crows attend to barb presence during Pandanus tool manufacture and use. Behaviour doi:10.1163/1568539X-00003316

Miller R, Schiestl M, Whiten A, Schwab C, Bugnyar T (2014) Tolerance and social facilitation in the foraging behaviour of free-ranging crows. Ethology 120:1248-1255

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, Meltzoff A, Miller R, Gopnik A, Clayton NS, Gray RD (2014) Of babies and birds: complex tool behaviours are not sufficient for the evolution of the ability to create a causal intervention. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281:20140837

Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2013) Clear evidence of habituation counters counterbalancing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:e337

Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2013) The devil is unlikely to be association or distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:e274

Miller R, King CE (2013) Husbandry training, using positive reinforcement techniques, for Marabou stork at Edinburgh Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook 47:171-180

Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2012) New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:16389-16391

Dufour V, Wascher C, Braun A, Miller R, Bugnyar T (2011) Time is money: Corvids can decide if a future transaction is worth waiting for. Biology Letters 23:201-204

Lab Manager/ Postdoctoral Research Associate

Contact Details

Comparative Cognition Lab, Department of Psychology, Downing Site
Person keywords: 
animal behaviour
child development
Not available for consultancy