Dr Rebecca Chamberlain

Staff details

Position Lecturer in Psychology
Department Psychology
Email r.chamberlain (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7873
Dr Rebecca Chamberlain

Among the many skills that humans evolved to design their environments, art-making is among the oldest, far predating evidence of written communication. Rebecca’s research sets out to understand how and why individuals create and respond so powerfully to works of art. Rebecca studied for a foundation degree in Art and Design at the University of the Arts, London before moving into cognitive science. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Experimental Psychology at University College London researching the psychology and neuroscience of representational drawing ability, before joining Professor Johan Wagemans’ lab at KU Leuven in Belgium as a postdoctoral researcher in 2013. Rebecca joined Goldsmiths as a lecturer in 2017.

Teaching and Supervision

Research interests

Rebecca’s research focuses on the psychology and neuroscience of the production and perception of visual art. She is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which artists acquire their expertise, and the impact of engagement with the visual arts can have on education and mental health. She is also interested in how individual differences in perception interact with learning and cognition.

  • Aesthetics of visual art
  • Artistic expertise Creativity
  • The role of art-making in education and mental health
  • Individual differences in attention and perception
  • Perception in neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. dyslexia / autism spectrum disorder)


Book Section

Chamberlain, Rebecca. 2017. The development of expertise in the visual arts. In: D. Z Hambrick; G Campitelli and B. N Macnamara, eds. The Science of Expertise: Behavioral, Neural, and Genetic Approaches to Complex Cognition. London; New York: Routledge, pp. 129-150. ISBN 9781138204386


Chamberlain, Rebecca; Kozbelt, Aaron; Drake, Jennifer and Wagemans, Johan. 2019. Learning to See by Learning to Draw: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Relationship Between Representational Drawing Training and Visuospatial Skill. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, ISSN 1931-3896

Chamberlain, Rebecca; Drake, Jennifer; Kozbelt, Aaron; Hickman, Rachel; Siev, Joseph and Wagemans, Johan. 2019. Artists as experts in visual cognition: An update. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 13(1), pp. 58-73. ISSN 1931-3896

Chamberlain, Rebecca. 2018. Drawing as a Window onto Expertise. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(6), pp. 501-507. ISSN 0963-7214

Chamberlain, Rebecca; Brunswick, Nicola; Siev, Joseph and McManus, I. C.. 2018. Meta-analytic findings reveal lower means but higher variances in visuo-spatial ability in dyslexia. British Journal of Psychology, 109(4), pp. 897-916. ISSN 0007-1269

van der Hallen, Ruth; Chamberlain, Rebecca; De-Wit, Lee and Wagemans, Johan. 2018. Superior disembedding in children with ASD: New tests using abstract, meaningful, and 3D contexts. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(7), pp. 2478-2489. ISSN 0162-3257

Chamberlain, Rebecca; Mullin, Caitlin; Scheerlinck, Bram and Wagemans, Johan. 2018. Putting the Art in Artificial: Aesthetic Responses to Computer-generated Art. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 12(2), pp. 177-192. ISSN 1931-3896

Chamberlain, Rebecca; Swinnen, Lena; Heeren, Sarah and Wagemans, Johan. 2018. Perceptual flexibility is coupled with reduced executive inhibition in students of the visual arts. British Journal of Psychology, 109(2), pp. 244-258. ISSN 0007-1269

Huygelier, Hanne; van der Hallen, Ruth; Wagemans, Johan; De-Wit, Lee and Chamberlain, Rebecca. 2018. The Leuven Embedded Figures Test (L-EFT): measuring perception, intelligence or executive function? PeerJ,

Chamberlain, Rebecca; van der Hallen, Ruth; Huygelier, Hanne; Van de Cruys, Sander and Wagemans, Johan. 2017. Local-global processing bias is not a unitary individual difference in visual processing. Vision Research, 141, pp. 247-257. ISSN 0042-6989

Van de Cruys, Sander; Chamberlain, Rebecca and Wagemans, Johan. 2017. Tuning in to art: A predictive processing account of negative emotion in art (commentary). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e377. ISSN 0140-525X

De-Wit, Lee; Huygelier, Hanne; van der Hallen, Ruth; Chamberlain, Rebecca and Wagemans, Johan. 2017. Developing The Leuven Embedded Figures Test (L-EFT): Testing the stimulus features that influence embedding. PeerJ, 5, e2862.

Chamberlain, Rebecca and Wagemans, Johan. 2016. The genesis of errors in drawing. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 65, pp. 195-207. ISSN 0149-7634

Chamberlain, Rebecca and Wagemans, Johan. 2015. Visual arts training is linked to flexible attention to local and global levels of visual stimuli. Acta Psychologica, 161, pp. 185-197. ISSN 0001-6918

Chamberlain, Rebecca; McManus, I. C.; Brunswick, Nicola; Rankin, Qona and Riley, Howard. 2015. Scratching the surface: Practice, personality, approaches to learning and the acquisition of high level representational drawing skill. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(4), pp. 451-462. ISSN 1931-3896

Cappelletti, Marinella; Chamberlain, Rebecca; Freemana, Elliot D.; Kanai, Ryota; Butterworth, Brian; Price, Cathy J. and Rees, Geraint. 2014. Commonalities for Numerical and Continuous Quantity Skills at Temporo-parietal Junction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(5), pp. 986-999. ISSN 0898-929X

Chamberlain, Rebecca; McManus, I. C.; Brunswick, Nicola; Rankin, Qona; Riley, Howard and Kanai, Ryota. 2014. Drawing on the right side of the brain: a voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing. NeuroImage, 96(1), pp. 167-173. ISSN 1053-8119

Chamberlain, Rebecca; McManus, I. C.; Riley, Howard; Rankin, Qona and Brunswick, Nicola. 2014. Cain’s House Revisited and Revived: Extending Theory and Methodology for Quantifying Drawing Accuracy. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 8(2), pp. 152-167. ISSN 1931-3896

Chamberlain, Rebecca; McManus, I. C.; Riley, Howard; Rankin, Qona and Brunswick, Nicola. 2013. Local processing enhancements in superior observational drawing are due to enhanced perceptual functioning, not weak central coherence. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(7), pp. 1448-1466. ISSN 1747-0218

McManus, I. C.; Loo, Phik-Wern; Chamberlain, Rebecca; Riley, Howard and Brunswick, Nicola. 2011. Does shape constancy relate to drawing accuracy? Two failures to replicate. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 29(2), pp. 191-208. ISSN 0276-2374

McManus, I. C.; Chamberlain, Rebecca; Loo, Phik-Wern; Rankin, Qona; Riley, Howard and Brunswick, Nicola. 2010. Art students who cannot draw: Exploring the relations between drawing ability, visual memory, accuracy of copying and dyslexia. Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, 4(1), pp. 18-30. ISSN 1931-3896

Further profile content

Goldsmiths Research Centres/Groups/Projects

Grants and awards

2018: BA / Leverhulme
Small Research Grant

2014: Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
Post-doctoral Fellowship

2010: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
1+3 PhD Studentship

Public Engagement

Rebecca has been involved with a number of public engagement activities including:

  • Radio appearances for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service
  • A public workshop, SuperLAB, on the relationship between science and the visual arts
  • Debunking brain myths as part of Brain Awareness Week
  • A slow looking tour at the Tate Modern