Robert M. French

Emeritus Research Director – Psychology, Computer Science

  • +33 (0)3 80 39 90 65
  • Room #323

Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté
Institut Marey - I3M
64 rue de Sully
21000 Dijon


  • Connectionist modeling
  • Catastrophic interference
  • Categorization in children and infants
  • Bilingualism
  • Foundations of cognitive science (esp. Turing Test)
  • Analogy-making
  • Computational models of evolution.

Curriculum Vitae

Download the CV in PDF format (216 Ko)

Bob French began his academic career in mathematics, holding both an undergraduate degree and a Master's degree in mathematics.  He worked for a decade as a French translator in Paris, translating with a colleague Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach into French in 1985.  He returned to the U.S. to do a Ph.D with Hofstadter in artificial intelligence/cognitive science, which he completed in 1992.  After a post-doc in experimental psychology at the University of Wisconsin, he returned to Europe to take a position in the psychology department at the University of Liège in Belgium, teaching statistics.  He joined the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) as a research director in 2004.   For older papers and papers in conference proceedings, notably the CogSci Proceedings, see:

Research topics


By clicking here you can see an abstract about the project. If more information about the project is available, it can be seen by clicking on the project name above the abstract. there is more information available about the project, you can get it by clicking on the project name.

From Associations To Rules In The Development Of Concepts (FAR) (European Commission Sixth Framework: NEST no. 516542)
Denis Mareschal, Project Coordinator
Robert French, Co-Coordinator
Total Amount of the Grant: 1.2 M euros
Duration: 3 years

Humans - The Analogy Making Species (European Commission Sixth Framework: NEST-2004-Path-HUM)
Boicho Kokinov, Project Coordinator
Robert French, Co-Coordinator
Total Amount of the Grant: 1.8 M euros
Duration: 3 years

The Limits of Co-currence Analyses (Région de Bourgogne)
Robert French & Valerie Camos, Project Co-coordinators
Total Amount of the Grant: 139.500 euros
Duration: 1 year

Basic Mechanisms of Learning and Forgetting in Natural and Artificial Systems (European Commission 5th Framework project HPRN-CT-1999-00065)
Robert M. French, Project Coordinator,
Denis Mareschal, Co-Coordinator,
Total Amount of the Grant: 980,000 euros,
Duration: 4 years + 1 year extension. Completed: 2005.


Workshops Organized

April 12-14, 2007: The Tenth Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (NCPW10) was held in Dijon, France, and was organized by Bob French and Xanthi Skoura-Papaxanthis. Proceedings of this Workshop: (French, R. & Thomas, E. (eds.) (2008). FROM ASSOCIATIONS TO RULES: Connectionist Models of Behavior and Cognition Singapore: World Scientific can be seen by clicking here .

September 16-18, 2000: The Sixth Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (NCPW6) was held in Liège, Belgium, from. Proceedings of this Workshop (French, R. and Sougné, J. (eds.) (2001). Connectionist models of learning, development and evolution. Berlin: Springer-Verlag) can be seen by clicking here .

March 28, 1998: IUAP Workshop "The role of implicit memory and implicit learning in representing the world", Château de Colonster, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium. This Workshop eventually led to a book, entitled, Implicit Learning and Consciousness: An empirical, philosophical, and computational consensus in the making? This book will be published by Psychology Press and will appear in the fall of 2001. Introduction: "The study of consciousness spans a host of disciplines ranging from philosophy to neuroscience, from psychology to computer modeling. Arguments about consciousness run the gamut from tenuous, even ridiculous, thought experiments to the most rigorous neuroscientific experiments. This book offers a novel perspective on many fundamental issues about consciousness based on empirical, computational and philosophical research on implicit learning - learning without conscious awareness of having learned..." For the complete introduction to the book, please click here .



  • French, R. M. and Cleeremans, A. (2002) . Implicit learning and consciousness: An empirical, philosophical, and computational consensus in the making. London, UK: Psychology Press, ISBN: 1-841-69201-8
  • French, R. M. (1995) . The Subtlety of Sameness. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-06810-5. To view the Forward (by Dan Dennett), the Introduction, Chapter 1 and the Conclusion of the book click here
  • French, R. M. and Henry, J. (1985) . Gödel, Escher, Bach: les Brins d'une Guirlande Eternelle . French Translation of Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. Paris, France: InterEditions. ISBN 2-10-005435-X.


Recent papers

Click on the name of the author to download the full paper. All papers are in pdf format and require Acrobat Reader to be read. (Acrobat Reader can be acquired free of charge at Please be aware that all papers that have been made available electronically are PRE-PRINTS and may contain differences with respect to their final, published versions which, for reasons of copyright ownership, cannot be put on this site. If the paper has appeared in print, the citation references are given. Clicking on a paper to download it constitutes an explicit request for a pre-print of that paper. For the final, published version of a paper, please refer to the references included in the pre-print and then acquire the paper through the journal in which it appeared.


Index of papers available on this site
By clicking here you can see the abstract of the paper. Then, if you wish to download the pre-print of the paper, click on the author name above the abstract.

Categorization in Infants and Children

  • Cowell, R.A. & French, R. M. (2007). An unsupervised, dual-network connectionist model of rule emergence in category learning.
  • Abreu, A., French, R. M., Cowell, R. A. & de Schonen, S. (2006). Local-Global visual deficits in Williams Syndrome: Stimulus presence contributes to diminished performance on image-reproduction.
  • Delbé, C., Bigand, E., & French, R. M. (2006). Asymmetric Categorization in the Sequential Auditory Domain.
  • Abreu, A. M., French, R. M., Annaz, D., Thomas, M., De Schonen, S. (2005). A "Visual Conflict" Hypothesis for Global-Local Visual Deficits in Williams Syndrome: Simulations and Data
  • French, R. M., Mareschal, D., Mermillod, M., & Quinn, P. C. (2004). The Role of Bottom-up Processing in Perceptual Categorization by 3- to 4-month-old Infants: Simulations and Data.
  • Mermillod, M., French, R. M., Quinn, P. & Mareschal, D., (2003). The Importance of Long-term Memory in Infant Perceptual Categorization.
  • French, R. M., Mermillod, M., Quinn, P., Chauvin, A., & Mareschal, D. (2002) . The Importance of Starting Blurry: Simulating Improved Basic-Level Category Learning in Infants Due to Weak Visual Acuity.
  • Mareschal, D., Quinn, P. & French, R. M. (2002). Asymmetric interference in 3- to 4-month-olds' sequential category learning.
  • Labiouse, C., French, R. M. and Mermillod, M. (2002). Using autoencoders to model asymmetric category learning in early infancy: Insights from Principal Components Analysis.
  • French, R. M., Mermillod, M., Quinn, P., & Mareschal, D. (2001). Reversing Category Exclusivities in Infant Perceptual Categorization: Simulations and Data.
  • Mareschal, D. & French, R. M. (2000). Mechanisms of categorization in infancy.
  • Mareschal, D. & French, R. M. (1999). A connectionist account of perceptual category-learning in infants.
  • Mareschal, D., French, R. M. & Quinn, P. (1998). A Connectionist Account of Asymmetric Category Learning in Early Infancy.
  • Mareschal, D. and French, R. M. (1997). A connectionist account of interference effects in early infant memory and categorization.

Catastrophic interference in connectionist networks

  • French, R. M. (2003). Catastrophic Forgetting in Connectionist Networks (Encyclopedia review article).
  • French, R. M. & Chater, N. (2002). Using noise to compute error surfaces in connectionist networks: A novel means of reducing catastrophic forgetting.
  • Ans, B., Rousset, S., French, R. M., & Musca, S. (2002). Preventing Catastrophic Interference in Multiple-Sequence Learning Using Coupled Reverberating Elman Networks
  • Sougné, J. & French, R. M. (2001). Synfire Chains and Catastrophic Interference.
  • French, R. M., Ans, B., & Rousset, S. (2001). Pseudopatterns and dual-network memory models: Advantages and shortcomings.
  • French, R. M. (1999). A review of catastrophic forgetting in connectionist networks.
  • French, R. M. & Ferrara, A. (1999). Modeling time perception in rats: Evidence for catastrophic interference in animal learning
  • French, R. M. (1997). Pseudo-recurrent connectionist networks: An approach to the "sensitivity-stability" dilemma.
  • French, R. M. (1997). Using pseudo-recurrent connectionist networks to solve the problem of sequential learning.
  • French, R. M., (1994). Dynamically constraining connectionist networks to produce distributed, orthogonal representations to reduce catastrophic interference.
  • French, R. M., (1991). Using semi-distributed representations to overcome catastrophic interference in connectionist networks.

Neural Network modeling (general)

Bilingual memory

  • French, R. M. & Jacquet, M. (2004). All cases of word production are not created equal: a reply to Costa & Santesteban.
  • French, R. M. & Jacquet, M. (2004). Understanding Bilingual Memory: Models and Data.
  • Jacquet, M. & French, R. M. (2002). The BIA++: Extending the BIA+ to a dynamical distributed connectionist framework.
  • French, R. M. (1998). A Simple Recurrent Network Model of Bilingual Memory
  • French, R. M. and Ohnesorge, C. (1997). Homographic self-inhibition and the disappearance of priming: More evidence for an interactive-activation model of bilingual memory
  • French, R. M. & Ohnesorge, C. (1996). Using interlexical nonwords to support an interactive-activation model of bilingual memory
  • French, R. M. and Ohnesorge C. (1995). Using non-cognate interlexical homographs to study bilingual memory organization


  • Thibaut, J.-P., French, R. M., Vezneva, M. (2009). Cognitive Load and Analogy-making in Children: Explaining an Unexpected Interaction.
  • Thibaut, J.-P., French, R. M., Vezneva, M. (2008). Analogy-Making in Children: The Importance of Processing Constraints.
  • French, R. M. (2008). BBS Commentary on Leech et al., Analogy as Relational Priming.
  • French, R. M. (2007). The dynamics of the computational modeling of analogy-making.
  • Kokinov, B. and French, R. M. (2003). Computational Models of Analogy-making.
  • French, R. M. (2006). The dynamics of the computational modeling of analogy-making.
  • Kokinov, B. and French, R. M. (2003). Computational Models of Analogy-making.
  • French, R. M. (2002). The Computational Modeling of Analogy-making.
  • French, R. M. and Labiouse, C. (2001). Why co-occurrence information alone is not sufficient to answer subcognitive questions.
  • See also: French, R. M. (1995). The Subtlety of Sameness. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-06810-5

Foundations of cognitive science

  • French, R. M. (2009). If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... The Turing Test, Intelligence and Consciousness.
  • French, R. M., (2002). Natura non facit saltum: The need for the full continuum of mental representations.
  • French, R. M. (2000). The Chinese Room: Just Say "No!"
  • French, R. M. (2000). Peeking Behind the Screen: The Unsuspected Power of the Standard Turing Test.
  • French, R. M. (2000). The Turing Test: the first fifty years.
  • French. R. M. (2000). Creation and Discovery: Opposite Ends of a Continuum of Constraints
  • French, R. M. & Anselme, P. (1999). Interactively converging on context-sensitive representations: A solution to the frame problem
  • French, R. M. & Cleeremans, A. (1998). Function, Sufficiently Constrained, Implies Form
  • French, R. M. & Thomas, E. (1998). The Dynamical Hypothesis: One Battle Behind.
  • French, R. M. and Weaver, M. (1997). New-feature learning: How common is it?
  • French, R. M. (1997). When coffee cups are like old elephants or Why representation modules don't make sense.
  • French, R. M. and Cleeremans, A. (1996). Probing and Prediction: A pragmatic view of cognitive modeling.
  • French, R. M. (1996). The Inverted Turing Test: How a simple (mindless) program could pass it.
  • French, R. M., (1995). Refocusing the Debate on the Turing Test.
  • French, R. M., (1990). Subcognition and the Limits of the Turing Test.

Evolution/Artificial life

  • French, R. M. (2009). The Red Tooth Hypothesis: A computational model of predator-prey relations, protean escape behavior and sexual reproduction.
  • French, R. M. and Kus, E. (2008). KAMA: A Temperature-Driven Model of Mate Choice Using Dynamic Partner Representations
  • French, R. M., Kus, E.T., (2006). Modeling Mate-Choice using Computational Temperature and Dynamically Evolving Representations.
  • French, R. M., Brédart, S., Huart, J., & Labiouse, C. (2000). The resemblance of one-year-old infants to their fathers: refuting Christenfeld & Hill (1995).
  • Bredart, S. & French, R. M. (1999). Do Babies Resemble their Fathers More Than their Mothers? A Failure to Replicate Christenfeld and Hill (1995).
  • French, R. M. & Messinger, A. (1994). Genes, Phenes and the Baldwin Effect: Learning and Evolution in a Simulated Population.

Machine Learning


Textual Analysis

  • A Gill, A. J., French, R. M., Gergle, D., Oberlander, J. (2008). Identifying Emotional Characteristics from Short Blog Texts.
  • Gill, A.J., Gergle, D., French, R.M., and Oberlander, J. (2008). Emotion Rating from Short Blog Texts.
  • A Gill, A. J., French, R. M. (2007). Semantic distance and author personality perception through texts
  • French, R. M. & Labiouse, C. (2002). Four Problems with Extracting Human Semantics from Large Text Corpora
  • French, R. M. (2008). Review of Neuroconstructivism: A new manifesto for child development research
  • French, R. M. (2004). For historians of automated computing only: A review of Who Invented The Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History by Alice Rowe Burks. Endeavour.
  • French, R. M. (2002). Review of Daniel Levine's Introduction to Neural and Cognitive Modeling.
  • French, R. M. & Thomas, E. (2001). The Dynamical Hypothesis in Cognitive Science: A review essay of Mind As Motion.
  • French, R. M. (1999). Review of Terry Regier's The Human Semantic Potential: Spatial language and constrained connectionism.
  • French, R. M. (1996). Review of Paul M. Churchland, The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul.


  • French, R. M., Thévenin, M., Hamel, M., & Montbarbon, E (In Press). A Histogram-Difference Method (HDM) for Neutron/Gamma Discrimination Using Liquid and Plastic Scintillators. IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science (in press). More ›
  • French, R. M. (In Press). Reflections on Connectionist Modeling. In Farrell, S. and Lewandowsky, S (Eds.), Computational Modeling of Cognition and Behavior (pp. ). : Cambridge University Press. More ›
  • Addyman, C., Rocha, S., Fautrelle, L., French, R. M., Thomas, E., and Mareschal, D. (2017). Embodiment and the origin of interval timing: Kinematic and electromyographic data. Experimental Brain Research; doi:10.1007/s00221-016-4842-y, 3(235), 923-930. More ›
  • French, R. M., Glady, Y., & Thibaut, J.-P. (2017). An evaluation of scanpath-comparison and machine-learning classification algorithms used to study the dynamics of analogy making. Behavior Research Methods, doi:10.3758/s13428-016-0788-z. More ›
  • Mareschal, D., & French, R. M. (2017). A connectionist autoencoder using graded chunks to model infant visual statistical learning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. More ›
  • Robert M. French (2017). ASIC 2017 talk on TRACX and TRACX2. ASIC 2017. More ›
  • Addyman, C., French, R. M., & Thomas, E. (2016). Computational models of interval timing. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. More ›
  • Glady, Y., French, R. M., & Thibaut, J. P. (2016). Comparing competing views of analogy making using eye-tracking technology. In Proceedings of the Thirty-eighth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1349-1354). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Societ. More ›
  • Thibaut, J.-P., & French, R. M. (2016). Analogical reasoning, control and executive functions: A developmental investigation with eye-tracking. Cognitive Development. More ›
  • Thomas, E., & French, R. M. (2016). Grandmother cells: Much ado about nothing. Language, Cognition & Neuroscience, 3(32), 342-349. More ›

See 66 publications ›

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