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Victoria Braithwaite

Professor of Fisheries and Biology

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Research Interests: I study different aspects of animal behavior. I am particularly interested in animal cognition – how animals perceive the world and how they learn and remember information. My research addresses why animal cognition varies, for example what factors affect how clever an animal can become, how accurate it is or how fast it is in making decisions?

Although I am interested in determining the mechanisms that underlie cognition and decision making, it is important to understand the evolutionary history and environmental context that has shaped how an animal behaves – my work is therefore multi-disciplinary bridging mechanism with function.

Almost all my current research is with fish. I use a variety of different species to explore different kinds of question. My group and I choose to work with fish because they can behave in sophisticated ways - integrating different kinds of information to allow them to make different choices – for example, ‘Is this a safe place to forage?’, ‘Should I fight this rival?’ or ‘Which mate should I choose?’.  While fish behavior can be considered to be complex, they generate their behavior through a relatively simple vertebrate nervous system - the simplicity of their brain provides us with an opportunity to study specific mechanisms. In this way my group and I tackle aspects of neurobiology, physiology all the way through to behavior in the whole organism.