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Cognitive Neuroethology

Research in Cognitive Neuroethology

Neurons (an artist's rendition?)

Our research explores the links between brain, physiology and behaviour.  We examine how behaviour evolves, and how nervous systems support fundamental elements of behaviour like thought, memory, decison and navigation. Core to our approach is to study the neurobiology of animal's natural behaviour in either their natural environment or in specially designed labs in which they can express their natural behaviour.  We focus particularly on ants and bees.  These animals display phenomenal behavioural abilities and rich behavioural repertoirs despite having only tiny brains.  We believe study of these "simple" animals will be particularly insightful in working out how behaviour emerges from neural circuits. 

Core questions that motivate our research

  • How do innovative forms of behaviour, like new forms of social behaviour or the honey bee dance language, evolve?
  • How do animals navigate and find their way home?
  • How does goal-directed behaviour arise?
  • How animals evaluate their world and make decisions?
  • How do neural systems support thoughts and memory?

Latest News

9 Apr 2015: Naila Even graduates!  Huge Congratulations Dr Even - we are all very proud. 

9 Apr 2015: Brian Entler of Scranton University wins a Fulbright Student Award to study with us at Macquarie for a year.  Brian will be working on the Bionic Brain.

2 Apr 2015: Former intern Kaitlin Deutsch has been awarded both a Frost Scholarship to study a  Masters at Oxford University and an NSF Graduate Scholarship for a PhD.  Congratulations Kaitlin!

26 Mar 2015: The lab as been awarded an International Exchange Scheme grant from the Royal Society to work with Professor James Marshall of Sheffield University on the Bionic Brain.

24 Feb 2015: New scholarships for international and domestic PhD candidates available to study mechanisms of cognition and goal-directed behaviour in bees. Click here for details.

10 Feb 2015: Our study by Perry et al on honey bee colony failure is published in PNAS.  Reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Online and profiled in Nature.

28 Dec 2014: PhD scholarships for Australian and international graduate students are now available.  Details of possible projects can be found on the 'Join us' page. Contact Andrew Barron to lodge an expression of interest.

5 Nov 2014: Ken Cheng, Jochen Zeil, Ajay Narendra, Rudiger Wehner and Andrew Barron awarded ARC Discovery Project grant for a major 4-year collaborative project examining the neural mechanisms of navigation in ants.

9 Oct 2014: Ken Cheng and Andrew Barron awarded Highly Commended in the 2014 Macquarie University Research Awards for their research into mechanisms of animal cognition.  Click link to see video.

23 July 2014: Andrew Barron awarded 4-year ARC Future Fellowship to develop a computational model of the honey bee brain.