Scheme: Newton International Fellowships
Organisation: University of Oxford
Dates: Mar 2014-Mar 2016
Summary: Collective decision-making has been the subject of scientific study for over a century yet we still know little about the circumstances under which groups make better (or indeed worse) decisions than individuals. My postdoctoral research directly addresses this longstanding question, using pigeon homing as a model system. I compare the cognitive abilities of individuals and groups by testing them on the same spatio-cognitive tasks. To investigate the emergence of collective cognition – both as a one-off occurrence and as a cumulative process over time – cutting-edge GPS devices provides high-resolution individual spatiotemporal data, allowing me to create detailed individual-based models that also build on a large body of existing knowledge about pigeons’ individual cognitive abilities. My results may be applicable to multiple research fields, including optimal decision-making theory and collective robotics.