Dr. Michael D. Rugg

Professor of behavioral and brain sciences and
co-director of the Center for Vital Longevity

Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Rugg is an internationally-reputed researcher in cognitive neuroscience and human memory. His research has contributed significantly to understanding the basic mechanisms of memory formation and retrieval, as well as how aging and injury impact memory. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science.

His current research is aimed at understanding how age-related changes in the brain's structure and function affect cognitive abilities, both in healthy people and those with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. A major focus of his research is on episodic memory—the type of memory that allows us to remember events that are tied to a particular place and time. His work employs the behavioral methods of experimental psychology, neuroimaging techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging, and electrophysiological recordings of human brain activity.

"I have been fascinated by the puzzle of memory since I was an undergraduate student. Our memories let us use the past to guide our future behavior, and are also central to our sense of selfhood. My research aims to understand how the brain learns and remembers, why these processes are affected by age and disease, and what can be done to reduce or reverse these effects."

Rugg was awarded the Henri Hecaen Award for contributions to neuropsychology in 1989 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh—one of the world's oldest scientific societies—in 1996. He is currently editor-in-chief of the international journal Neuropsychologia.

Rugg received his bachelor's and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and went on to professorships at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and University College London. He joined the University of California, Irvine in 2003, where he served as the director of the Center for Neurobiology and Learning and Memory. In 2011, he joined UT Dallas as the Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and co-director of the Center for Vital Longevity.

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Dr. Michael D. Rugg

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences


An anonymous donation created the position to support the research and scholarly activities of the faculty member appointed. The chair was established in 2009 and filled by Rugg in 2011.


Rugg is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers and edited three books on various aspects of neurobiology and cognition.


"The scientific facilities of the Center for Vital Longevity and the support of UT Dallas provide the ideal environment for the further development and expansion of my research."