PNB Colloquium - Noam Miller - Collective animal cognition



Collective animal cognition

Noam Miller

Departments of Psychology and Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University



Members of many species, ours included,live in groups and their cognitive functions are therefore influenced by thedynamics of the group. Individuals may, for example, have to balance theirpersonal preferences with sometimes conflicting social information and the needto maintain the group’s cohesion. Animals and humans often conform to theirgroups, learn collectively, adaptively weight personal and social information,and display group-specific cognitive adaptations (such as reciprocal altruismor dominance hierarchies). Using a combination of theoretical models andexperiments on fish, rats, and birds, I will demonstrate how individualcognition is shaped by taking place in a group and attempt to define a loose theoreticalframework within which the mechanisms and evolution of collective cognition canbe studied.


Noam Miller is an assistant professor inthe departments of psychology and biology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Hereceived a BSc in Biology from Tel-Aviv University, where he studied how ratsexplore novel environments with Ilan Golani. He then received his MA and PhD inPsychology from the University of Toronto, where he worked with SaraShettleworth (studying geometry learning) and Robert Gerlai (studyingcollective movement in zebrafish). In between, he also acquired a BMus inperformance. After completing his PhD, Noam worked with Iain Couzin, in theEcology & Evolutionary Biology Department at Princeton University, oncollective cognition and learning. Noam’s interests span a broad range ofquestions on social cognition, learning, and collective behavior. He works hardto combine theoretical and empirical approaches and try to bridge psychology’straditional focus on mechanism with broader questions from behavioral ecology.He has worked with rats, pigeons, zebrafish, golden shiners, guppies, goldfish,Japanese quail, and garter snakes, and often collaborates with humans.

Host: Reuvan Dukas

Location information

1280 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada

Hamilton L8S 4L8
1280 Main Street West

Contact Department

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)
Psychology Building (PC), Room 102
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1