The group began in the 80s and since then it has been actively working. The first publication goes back to 1985 (Diez-Chamizo, Sterio, & Mackintosh, QJEP, 37B, 235-253).

In his classic 1981 (L&M, 12, 239-260) work about spatial localization by the rat, Morris claimed that his results provided support for O'Keefe and Nadel's (1978, The hippocampus as a cognitive map. Oxford University Press) mapping theory (which assumes that spatial learning differs radically from standard conditioning) but no definite evidence that the processes underlying the formation of a map or its use in behaviour are distinct from those processes explored in traditional studies of associative learning. However he suggested that "systematic comparisons could be possible using procedures known to reveal phenomena characteristic of instrumental and/or classical conditioning, like latent inhibition and blocking" (p.259). To develop such systematic comparisons has been our main research interest for the past 25 years, mainly in collaboration with Professor N.J. Mackintosh. Complementary, the group is also interested in other themes, with non-spatial tasks, related with associative learning.

The main results of our work have been the demonstration that the basic phenomena of Pavlovian conditioning (like blocking, overshadowing, latent inhibition, perceptual learning ...) also appear when working with strictly spatial tasks (both in the elevated maze and in the Morris water maze). Partly due to our results (for a review see Chamizo, 2003) the influential proposal by O'Keefe and Nadel (1978) has been seriously questioned. Their proposal claims that spatial learning is non-associative, different and independent from other forms of traditional learning, like classical and instrumental conditioning. At present we have adopted a comparative approach. Our main line of research still is to understand what are the processes underlying the acquisition and maintenance of spatial information, but both with non-human and with human participants (in this case by means of a virtual navigation task), in order to expand our theoretical analysis to other effects and phenomena of the traditional ways of learning.

Other mid-term challenges, also within "Spatial Learning and Cognition", are sex differencies in this type of learning and the acquisition of cognitive maps.