I am broadly interested in the evolution and neuroethology of cognitive abilities. What are the cognitive capabilities of animals with very small brains? How are complex cognitive abilities (e.g. emotions, metacognition, social learning, consciousness) accomplished by the brain? What neural circuitry is required for these cognitive phenomena?
Studies of invertebrates have long provided a valuable perspective for comparative cognition and indeed have been invaluable for our progress in the neurosciences. Insects, in particular, are wonderful model systems to explore complex cognitive phenomena because of their large repertoire of sensory and behavioural adaptations and relatively small nervous systems. To better understand complex cognition, it will take both determining the neurocircuitry necessary for the fundamental elements of complex cognition and modelling such behaviour on a whole neural system level.
At Queen Mary University of London, I am using immunohistochemistry, pharmacology, RFID tracking, radar, modelling, computational analyses, and behavioural experiments in the lab and field to explore the vast world of miniscule brains.