Associate Professor Mark Nielsen

Associate Professor

School of Psychology
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
+61 7 336 56414


Mark joined the School of Psychology in 2002 as a UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow after completing his PhD at La Trobe University. His research interests lie in a range of inter-related aspects of socio-cognitive development in young human children and non-human primates. His current research is primarily focused on charting the origins and development of human cultural cognition. He became Deputy Head of School (Teaching and Learning) in 2015.

He is:

  • a Senior Research Associate, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • the Director, Early Cognitive Development Centre:
  • a member of: Association for Psychological Science; Society for Research in Child Development; Australasian Human Development Association
  • an Associate Editor: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
  • an Editorial Consultant: Child Development; Infant and Child Development

Research Impacts

Mark has forged an international reputation for cutting-edge research on multiple aspects of developmental social cognition. Based on the quality of his research, he was presented with an Early Career Researcher Award from the International Society on Infant Studies (2006), a Research Excellence Award from the (then) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (2009), and in 2016 was made a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. He has published over 60 papers, had his research feature in over 50 conference presentations and over 10 invited conference and colloquia talks that in 2015 include the Cultural Diversity in Social Learning Pre-Conference of the CDS Biennial Meeting, USA and TEDxUQ, Brisbane.


  • PhD, La Trobe University
  • PGradDip (Psychology), La Trobe University
  • Bachelor of Science, Flinders University


View all Publications


View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Shipton, Ceri and Nielsen, Mark (2018). The Acquisition of Biface Knapping Skill in the Acheulean. In DiPaolo, L. D., DiVincenzo, F. and DePetrillo, F. (Ed.), Evolution of Primate Social Cognition (pp. 283-297) Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-93776-2_18

  • Owada, Kei, Nielsen, Mark, Lau, Colleen L., Clements, Archie C. A., Yakob, Laith and Magalhaes, Ricardo J. Soares (2017). Measuring the Effect of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections on Cognitive Function in Children: Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal of Evidence. In Rollinson, D. and Stothard, J. R. (Ed.), Measuring the Effect of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections on Cognitive Function in Children: Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal of Evidence (pp. 1-37) Maryland Heights, MO United States: Academic Press. doi:10.1016/bs.apar.2017.05.002

  • Nielsen, Mark (2015). Pretend Play and Cognitive Development. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition (pp. 870-876) Orlando, FL, USA: Elsevier . doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.23073-0

  • Nielsen, Mark and Susianto, Erna W. E. (2010). Failure to find over-imitation in captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus): Implications for our understanding of cross-generation information transfer. In Johan Håkansson (Ed.), Developmental Psychology (pp. 153-167) New York. NY, U.S.A.: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Nielsen, Mark and Slaughter, Virginia (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. In Nehaniv, Chrystopher L. and Dautenhahn, Kerstin (Ed.), Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions (pp. 343-360) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511489808.023

  • Nielsen, Mark G. and Slaughter, Virginia (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. In Nehaniv, C. L. and Dautenhahn, K. (Ed.), Imitation and social learning in robots, humans and animals First ed. (pp. 343-359) United States: Cambridge University Press.

  • Randell, A. C. and Nielsen, M. G. (2006). Children's communication of pretend acts using social cues. In M.A. Vanchevsky (Ed.), Frontiers in Cognitive Psychology (pp. 127-144) New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc..

  • Nielsen, M G, Suddendorf, T and Dissanayake, C (2006). Imitation and self-recogntion in autism: In search of an explanation. In S.J. Rogers and J.H.G. Williams (Ed.), Imitation and the Social Mind: Autism and Typical Development (pp. 138-197) New York: The Guilford Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Davidson, Rebecca, Sommer, Kristyn and Nielsen, Mark (2019). Children's Judgments of Anti-Social Behaviour Towards a Robot: Liking and Learning. In: 14th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Daegu South Korea, (709-711). 11-14 March 2019.

  • Owada, Kei, Nielsen, Mark, Lau, Colleen, Clements, Archie, Yakob, Laith and Magalhaes, Ricardo J. Soares (2017). MEASURING THE EFFECT OF SOIL-TRANSMITTED HELMINTH (STH) INFECTIONS ON COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN CHILDREN: SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF EVIDENCE. In: 65th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH), Atlanta Ga, (335-335). Nov 13-16, 2016.

  • Hensby, Kristyn, Wiles, Janet, Boden, Marie, Heath, Scott, Nielsen, Mark, Pounds, Paul, Riddell, Joshua, Rogers, Kristopher, Rybak, Nikodem, Slaughter, Virginia, Smith, Michael, Taufatofua, Jonathon, Worthy, Peter and Weigel, Jason (2016). Hand in hand: tools and techniques for understanding children's touch with a social robot. In: HRI 2016 - 11th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction. 11th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2016, Christchurch, New Zealand, (437-438). 7-10 March 2016. doi:10.1109/HRI.2016.7451794

  • Slaughter, Virginia, Oostenbroek, Janine, Suddendorf, Thomas and Nielsen, Mark (2013). Is the human mirror system operational at birth?. In: ACNS-2013 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, Melbourne, Australia, (). 28 Nov - 1 Dec, 2013. doi:10.3389/conf.fnhum.2013.212.00043

  • Suddendorf, T., Simcock, G., Nielsen, M. and Collier-Baker, E. (2006). The development of self-recognition in mirrors and live videos. In: Ottmar V. Lipp and Sarah Price, Australian Journal of Psychology: The Abstracts of the 33rd Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference. 33rd Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference, Bardon Conference Centre, Brisbane, (91-92). 20-23 April, 2006. doi:10.1080/00049530600940016

  • Collier-Baker, E, Davis, JM, Suddendorf, T and Nielsen, M (2004). Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) understand invisible displacement?. In: Folia Primatologica. , , (249-249). .

  • Nielsen, M. G. and Dissanayake, C A (2003). Synchronic imitation as pre-linguistic social interaction. In: K. Dautenhahn and C. Nehaniv, Proceedings of the AISB '03 Second International Symposium on Imitation in Animals and Artifacts. AISB '03 Cognition in Machines & Animals, Aberystwyth / The University of Wales, (131-137). April 7-11, 2003.

  • Nielsen, M. G. and Dissanayake, C.A. (2002). Deferred imitation and the onset of pretend play in the second year. In: Perspectives on Imitation: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Social Science, Paris, France, (). May 2002.

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision