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behavior

Photo of emperor penguins huddling together for warmth, with two sticking their heads out
Abstractions blog

Math of the Penguins

August 17, 2020

Emperor penguins display rigorously geometric spacing and mathematical efficiency when they huddle together for warmth, which may reveal secrets to their overall health.

Illustration of a flying albatross, a swimming basking shark and the Lévy walk paths they take.
behavior

Random Search Wired Into Animals May Help Them Hunt

June 11, 2020

The nervous systems of foraging and predatory animals may prompt them to move along a special kind of random path called a Lévy walk to find food efficiently when no clues are available.

Animated representation of locusts tracked by a computer move across a screen.
behavior

To Decode the Brain, Scientists Automate the Study of Behavior

December 10, 2019

Machine learning and deep neural networks can capture and analyze the “language” of animal behavior in ways that go beyond what’s humanly possible.

Illustration
neuroscience

How Microbiomes Affect Fear

December 4, 2019

New studies help to explain how microbes in the gut can shape a host’s fear responses.

Illustration of a woman with “hands” behind her eyes and “eyes” in her hands, showing how the brain integrates its sense of the world with the actions to be taken in response.
neuroscience

‘Noise’ in the Brain Encodes Surprisingly Important Signals

November 7, 2019

Activity in the visual cortex and other sensory areas is dominated by signals about body movements, down to little tics and twitches. Scientists are now rethinking how they study and conceive of perception.

Illustration of two strips of movie film coiled around each other in a double helix.
behavior

Inherited Learning? It Happens, but How Is Uncertain

October 16, 2019

Studies suggest that epigenetics allows some learned adaptive responses to be passed down to new generations. The question is how.

Art for "In Ecology Studies and Selfless Ants, He Finds Hope for the Future"
Q&A

In Ecology Studies and Selfless Ants, He Finds Hope for the Future

May 15, 2019

For more than six decades, the influential biologist Edward O. Wilson has drawn connections between evolution, ecology and behavior, often sparking controversies inside and outside of science.

Art for "Brains Speed Up Perception by Guessing What’s Next"
neuroscience

Brains Speed Up Perception by Guessing What’s Next

May 2, 2019

Your expectations shape and quicken your perceptions. A new model that explains how that happens also suggests it’s time to update theories about sensory perception and decision making.

In Theory

How Complex Wholes Emerge From Simple Parts

December 20, 2018

Throughout nature, throngs of relatively simple elements can self-organize into behaviors that seem unexpectedly complex. Scientists are beginning to understand why and how these phenomena emerge without a central organizing entity.