Dr Peter Murphy


Assistant Professor / Lecturer

John Hume Building


Dr. Peter Murphy (B.A., Dip.Stat., Ph.D.) joined the Department of Psychology as an Assistant Professor/Lecturer in September 2022. Before joining Maynooth University, he graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin in 2009 and completed his Ph.D., also at Trinity College, in 2012. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University, The Netherlands (2012-2015), and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany (2015-2020), and returned to Trinity College to complete a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2021-2022).

Peter has published his research findings in leading international neuroscience and general science journals including Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Nature Communications, eLife, and Journal of Neuroscience. He has won funding from the European Commission (Horizon 2020) and Irish Research Council, and was awarded the Early Career Investigator Award by Neuroscience Ireland in recognition of his research.

Research Interests

Dr. Murphy investigates how brains encode information about the world (sensory perception), maintain that information over time (short-term or ‘working’ memory), and prioritize or combine it in ways that allow us to make good decisions (decision-making, cognitive control, attention). He also studies how these cognitive functions might be altered in aging and psychiatric populations. This work makes use of several methods and approaches: carefully designed paradigms for psychophysical interrogation of human task performance; measurement of brain activity using non-invasive methods (EEG, fMRI, MEG); and monitoring changes in arousal by measuring pupil size. A theme common to much of Dr. Murphy’s work is the use of computational models to link neural and behavioural observations and arrive at deeper insights about cognitive and neural mechanisms. This can involve using normative models to assess (departures from) optimal strategies; fitting algorithmic cognitive models to decompose observed behaviour into latent component processes; and interrogating hand-tuned and/or trained neural networks to understand neural implementation.

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
Common mechanisms for decision-making and working memory in health and old age Lead 14/01/2021 16/08/2022
Manipulation of adaptive evidence accumulation in cortical decision networks Postdoc 02/11/2015 10/01/2020
Noradrenergic control of human cognition Postdoc 12/11/2012 30/10/2015
Measurement of locus coeruleus-noradrenergic function in the human brain and its influence on executive function Scholarship holder 14/09/2009 14/09/2012

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2023 van den Brink, RL; Hagena, K; Wilming, N; Murphy, PR; Buchel, C; Donner, TH (2023) 'Flexible sensory-motor mapping rules manifest in correlated variability of stimulus and action codes across the brain'. Neuron, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2022.11.009
2022 Tromp, Jeshua and Nieuwenhuis, Sander and Murphy, Peter (2022) 'The Effects of Neural Gain on Reactive Cognitive Control'. :1-12.
2022 Becker, Leonie F and Tunc, Sinem and Murphy, Peter and B\"aumer, Tobias and Weissbach, Anne and Pauly, Martje G and Al-Shorafat, Duha M and Saranza, Gerard and Lang, Anthony E and Beste, Christian and others (2022) 'Time estimation and arousal responses in dopa-responsive dystonia'. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-17545-w
2021 Desender, Kobe and Ridderinkhof, K Richard and Murphy, Peter R (2021) 'Understanding neural signals of post-decisional performance monitoring: An integrative review'. eLife, 10 . https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.67556
2021 Murphy, Peter R and Wilming, Niklas and Hernandez-Bocanegra, Diana C and Prat-Ortega, Genis and Donner, Tobias H (2021) 'Adaptive circuit dynamics across human cortex during evidence accumulation in changing environments'. Nature Neuroscience, 24 (7). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-021-00839-z
2021 van den Brink, Ruud L and Murphy, Peter R and Desender, Kobe and de Ru, Nicole and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2021) 'Temporal expectation hastens decision onset but does not affect evidence quality'. Journal of Neuroscience, 41 (1). https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1103-20.2020
2020 Melnychuk, Michael Christopher and Murphy, Peter R and Robertson, Ian H and Balsters, Joshua H and Dockree, Paul M (2020) 'Prediction of attentional focus from respiration with simple feed-forward and time delay neural networks'. Neural Computing and Applications, 32 (18). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00521-020-04841-7
2020 Wilming, Niklas and Murphy, Peter R and Meyniel, Florent and Donner, Tobias H (2020) 'Large-scale dynamics of perceptual decision information across human cortex'. Nature Communications, 11 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18826-6
2020 Naber, Marnix and Murphy, Peter (2020) 'Pupillometric investigation into the speed-accuracy trade-off in a visuo-motor aiming task'. Psychophysiology, 57 (3). https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13499
2019 Desender, Kobe and Murphy, Peter and Boldt, Annika and Verguts, Tom and Yeung, Nick (2019) 'A postdecisional neural marker of confidence predicts Information-Seeking in Decision-Making'. Journal of Neuroscience, 39 (17). https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2620-18.2019
2018 O’Connell, Redmond G and Murphy, Peter R (2018) 'U-turns in the brain'. Nature Neuroscience, 21 (4). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-018-0122-4
2018 Melnychuk, Michael Christopher and Dockree, Paul M and O (2018) 'Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama'. Psychophysiology, 55 (9). https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13091
2018 Jepma, Marieke and Brown, Stephen BRE and Murphy, Peter R and Koelewijn, Stephany C and de Vries, Boukje and van den Maagdenberg, Arn M and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2018) 'Noradrenergic and cholinergic modulation of belief updating'. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30 (12). https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01317
2017 Harty, Siobhan; Murphy, Peter R; Robertson, Ian H; O'Connell, Redmond G (2017) 'Parsing the neural signatures of reduced error detection in older age'. NeuroImage, 161 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.032
2016 Warren, Christopher M. and Murphy, Peter R. and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'Cognitive control, dynamic salience and the imperative toward computational accounts of neuromodulatory function'. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39 .
2016 Tona, Klodiana-Daphne and Murphy, Peter R and Brown, Stephen BRE and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'The accessory stimulus effect is mediated by phasic arousal: A pupillometry study'. Psychophysiology, . https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12653
2016 Jepma, Marieke and Murphy, Peter R and Nassar, Matthew R and Rangel-Gomez, Mauricio and Meeter, Martijn and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'Catecholaminergic regulation of learning rate in a dynamic environment'. PLoS Computational Biology, 12 (10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005171
2016 Van Den Brink, Ruud L and Murphy, Peter R and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'Pupil diameter tracks lapses of attention'. PLoS ONE, 11 (10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165274
2016 van den Brink, Ruud L and Pfeffer, Thomas and Warren, Christopher M and Murphy, Peter R and Tona, Klodiana-Daphne and van der Wee, Nic JA and Giltay, Eric and van Noorden, Martijn S and Rombouts, Serge ARB and Donner, Tobias H and others (2016) 'Catecholaminergic neuromodulation shapes intrinsic MRI functional connectivity in the human brain'. Journal of Neuroscience, 36 (30). https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0744-16.2016
2016 Urai, Anne E and Murphy, Peter R (2016) 'Commentary: Sensory integration dynamics in a hierarchical network explains choice probabilities in cortical area MT'. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 10 .
2016 Murphy, Peter R and van Moort, Marianne L and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'The pupillary orienting response predicts adaptive behavioral adjustment after errors'. PLoS ONE, 11 (3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151763
2016 Murphy, Peter R and Boonstra, Evert and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2016) 'Global gain modulation generates time-dependent urgency during perceptual choice in humans'. Nature Communications, 7 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13526
2015 Murphy, Peter R and Robertson, Ian H and Harty, Siobhan and O (2015) 'Neural evidence accumulation persists after choice to inform metacognitive judgments'. eLife, 4 . https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.11946
2015 Twomey, Deirdre M and Murphy, Peter R and Kelly, Simon P and O (2015) 'The classic P300 encodes a build-to-threshold decision variable'. European Journal of Neuroscience, 42 (1). https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.12936
2014 Murphy, Peter R and Vandekerckhove, Joachim and Nieuwenhuis, Sander (2014) 'Pupil-linked arousal determines variability in perceptual decision making'. PLoS Computational Biology, 10 (9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003854
2014 Murphy, Peter R and O (2014) 'Pupil diameter covaries with BOLD activity in human locus coeruleus'. Human Brain Mapping, 35 (8). https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.22466
2012 Murphy, Peter R and Robertson, Ian H and Allen, Darren and Hester, Robert and O (2012) 'An electrophysiological signal that precisely tracks the emergence of error awareness'. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00065
2011 Murphy, Peter R and Robertson, Ian H and Balsters, Joshua H and O (2011) 'Pupillometry and P3 index the locus coeruleus--noradrenergic arousal function in humans'. Psychophysiology, 48 (11). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01226.x
2023 D'Agostini M.; Burger A.M.; Franssen M.; Perkovic A.; Claes S.; von Leupoldt A.; Murphy P.R.; Van Diest I. (2023) 'Short bursts of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation enhance evoked pupil dilation as a function of stimulation parameters'. Cortex, 159 :233-253. [DOI]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
Society for Neuroscience Member -
Neuroscience Ireland Member -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/01/2020 Early Career Investigator Award Neuroscience Ireland
01/01/2021 Postdoctoral Publication of the Year Prize TCD School of Psychology
01/01/2012 George White Memorial Prize for outstanding research-based publication TCD School of Psychology
01/01/2009 Gold Medal Award Trinity College Dublin
01/01/2021 Research Boost Programme Award Trinity College Dublin


Employer Position From / To
Trinity College Dublin Senior Research Fellow 18/01/2021 - 31/08/2022
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Postdoc 02/11/2015 - 10/01/2020
Leiden University Postdoc 28/09/2012 - 30/10/2015


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
Trinity College Dublin Ph.D. Cognitive neuroscience
Trinity College Dublin Dip.Stat. Statistics
Trinity College Dublin B.A. Psychology