Senior Lecturer, Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Newcastle University

Research Interests:
My research focuses on different aspects of spatial information processing, specifically in food-hoarding animals. In the spirit of true NeuroEcology, I approach this topic from both an ultimate (evolutionary, ecological) and a proximate (behavioural and neural mechanisms) point of view.

From the ultimate point of view, I ask questions about the evolutionary origin of food-hoarding behaviour, how it is maintained in a population and which mechanisms have evolved to make it adaptive.

From the proximate point of view, I study both behavioural and neural mechanisms involved in food hoarding. Behaviourally, our group is interested in the strategies employed by food-hoarding birds to prevent loss of caches and to maximize their own benefits, which seem to rely for a great deal (but not exclusively) on memory for individual cache locations. Neurobiologically, we are interested in the neural basis of this memory, using a range of techniques, from purely anatomical measures (cell numbers, neurogenesis, gene expression patterns), through interference with function (permanent and temporary inactivation) to (in the future) electrophysiological recording from the relevant brain areas.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University