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Michael Corballis

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Michael Charles Corballis (born 10 September 1936) is a New Zealand psychologist and author. He is emeritus professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland. His fields of research are cognitive neuroscience, including visual perception, visual imagery, attention, memory and the evolution of language.

Early life and family

Corballis was born in Marton, New Zealand, in 1936, the son of Philip Patrick Joseph Corballis and Alice Elizabeth Harris. In 1962, he married Barbara Elizabeth Wheeler, and they went on to have two sons. Barbara Corballis died in 2020.

Education and career

Corballis was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and earned a Master's degree in Mathematics at the University of New Zealand in 1959 and attained a Master of Arts in psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1962. He then moved to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he gained a PhD in psychology in 1965, and taught in the Department of Psychology from 1968 to 1978. During his years as a professor at McGill, the main focus of his research was in cognitive neuroscience, analyzing complex cognitive systems such as perception, attention and memory, and initiating a research program on cerebral asymmetry. He was appointed professor of psychology at the University of Auckland in 1978. In recent years, the interests of Corballis have turned to evolutionary biology, contributing significantly to complex cognitive processes. Of great international importance was his hypothesis that human language evolved from gestures, expressed in the book "From hand to mouth". His work is widely quoted.

Honours and awards

In 1999, Corballlis was awarded the Shorland Medal by the New Zealand Association of Scientists. In the 2002 Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to psychological science. In 2016, he received the Royal Society of New Zealand's Rutherford Medal.



  • Psychology of Left and Right with Ivan L. Beale, John Wiley & Sons (1976)
  • The Ambivalent Mind: The Neuropsychology of Left and Right with Ivan L. Beale. Chicago: Nelson-Hall (1983)
  • Human Laterality, Academic Press (1984)
  • The Lopsided Ape: Evolution of the Generative Mind, Oxford University Press, USA (1991)
  • From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language, University Press Group (2003)
  • The Recursive Mind, Princeton University Press (2011)
  • A Very Short Tour of the Mind, The Overlook Press, USA (2013)
  • The Wandering Mind: What the Brain Does When You're Not Looking, Auckland University Press (2014)
  • The Truth about Language: What It Is and Where It Came From, University of Chicago Press (2017)

Selected journal papers

  • Corballis, M. C. 2009. "The evolution and genetics of cerebral asymmetry". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences, 364, 867–879.
  • Lewald, J., Peters, S., Corballis, M. C., & Hausmann, M. (2009). "Perception of stationary and moving sound following cortectomy". Neuropsychologia, 47, 962–971.
  • Milivojevic, B., Hamm, J. P., & Corballis, M. C. (2009). "Functional neuroanatomy of mental rotation". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 945–959.
  • Corballis, M. C. (2009). "The evolution of language". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1156, 19–43.
  • Suddendorf, T., Addis, D. R., & Corballis, M. C. (2009). "Mental time travel and the shaping of the human mind". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences, 364, 1317–1324.

External links

  • Corballis at the University of Auckland
  • Michael Corballis, The University of Auckland -

Category:1936 births
Category:Living people
Category:Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Category:New Zealand psychologists
Category:University of Auckland alumni
Category:University of Auckland faculty
Category:Recipients of the Rutherford Medal
Category:People from Marton, New Zealand
Category:People educated at Whanganui Collegiate School
Category:McGill University Faculty of Science alumni

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