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Thomas Hills (Professor)

Thomas Hills

Cognitive Search, MIT Press

Cognitive Search: Evolution Algorithms and the Brain. MIT Press.

email: t.t.hills (at)

tel: (024) 765 23183



I am interested in the evolution of cognition and information and their relation to language, wellbeing, memory, decision making, free will, and self-alignment.

My research involves using sizable data, network science, machine learning, natural language processing, with applications to behavioural and cognitive science.

I am the Director of the Bridges-Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre and the Behavioural and Data Science MSc, and I co-direct Warwick's Global Research Priority in Behaviour, Brain & Society.

I am currently a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute. The Turing Institute offers PhD studentships to work with its Fellows for exceptional candidates. I am also a Research Fellow of the Royal Society.

Does my algorithm have a mental health problem, published in Aeon.

Publications and pdfs and my CV

Representative Publications:

  • Menczer, F., & Hills, T. (2020). The attention economy. Scientific American. link
  • Haebig, E., Jimenez, E., Cox, C., & Hills, T. (2020). Characterizing the early vocabulary profiles of preverbal and minimally verbal children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism. In press.
  • Jimenez, E., Haebig, E., & Hills, T. (2020). Identifying areas of overlap and distinction in early lexical profiles of children with autism spectrum disorder, late talkers, and typical talkers Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. In press.
  • Badman, R., Hills, T., & Akaishi, R. (2020). Multiscale computation and dynamic attention in biological and artificial intelligence. Brain Sciences.
  • Li, Y., Hills, T., & Hertwig, R. (2020). A brief history of risk. Cognition.
  • Todd, P.M., & Hills, T. (2020). Foraging in mind. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
  • Li, Y., Annasya, M., & Hills, T. (2020). The Emotional recall task: Juxtaposing recall and recognition-based affect scales. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
  • Hills, T., Proto, E., Sgroi, D., & Seresinhe, C. (2019). Historical analysis of national subjective wellbeing using millions of digitized books. Nature Human Behavior, 1-5.
  • Hills, T. (2019). Neurocognitive free will. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
  • Li, Y., Engelthaler, T., Siew, C. S., & Hills, T. (2019). The Macroscope: A tool for examining the historical structure of language. Behavior Research Methods, 1-14.
  • Herzog, S., & Hills, T. (2019) Mediation centrality in adversarial policy networks. Complexity.
  • Hills, T. (2018). The dark side of information proliferation. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
  • Jagiello, R., & Hills, T. (2018). Bad news has wings: Dread risk mediates social amplification in risk communication. Risk Analysis, 38, 2193–2207.
  • Hills, T., & Siew, C. S. (2018). Filling gaps in early word learning. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(9), 622.
  • Engelthaler, T., & Hills, T. (2018). Humor norms for 4,997 English words. Behavior Research Methods, 50(3), 1116-1124.
  • Dubossarsky, H., De Deyne, S., & Hills, T. (2017). Quantifying the structure of free association networks across the life span. Developmental Psychology, 53(8), 1560.
  • Engelthaler, T. & Hills, T. (2017). Feature biases in early word learning: Network distinctiveness predicts age of acquisition. Cognitive Science, 41, 120-140.
  • Sgroi, D., Hills, T., O'Donnell, G., Oswald, A. J., & Proto, E. (2017). Understanding Happiness: A CAGE Policy Report. Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy.
  • Noguchi, T., & Hills, T. (2016). Description-experience gap in choice deferral. Decision, 3, 54-61.
  • Hills, T., Proto, E., & Srgoi, D. (2015). Historical analysis of national subjective wellbeing using millions of digitized books. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9195.
  • Hills, T., & Adelman, J. (2015). Recent evolution in the learnability of American English from 1800 to 2000. Cognition, 143, 87-92.
  • Jones, M.N., Hills, T., & Todd, P.M. (2015). Hidden processes in structural representations: A reply to Abbot, Austerweil, and Griffiths (2015). Psychological Review, 122, 570-574.
  • Bilson, S., Yoshida, H., Tran, C., Woods, E., & Hills, T. (2015). Semantic facilitation in bilingual first language acquisition. Cognition, 140, 122-134.
  • Hills, T. & Butterfill, S. (2015). From foraging to autonoetic consciousness: The primal self as a consequence of embodied prospective foraging. Current Zoology, 61, 368-381.
  • Hills, T. (2015). Crowdsourcing content creation in the classroom. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. Published online: DOI 10.1007/s12528-015-9089-2

Download open access versions of publications

Supervisor to:

Li Ying
Eva Jimenez Mesa
Tomas Engelthaler
Shayan Shaikh