Collective Behaviour and Collective Action
Many group-living species exhibit complex and coordinated spatio-
temporal patterns from the motion of locust swarms and fish schools to bird flocks, ungulate herds and human crowds. The common property of these apparently unrelated biological phenomena is that of inter-individual interaction, by which individuals can influence the behaviour of others. Individual-based models provide predictions regarding collective processes which we tested in a set of experiments that explore human and animal decision-making. In particular we developed a robotic fish that we can use to manipulate decision-making processes in groups of live fish. From this work it appears that in some cases individuals in groups are capable of solving cognitive problems that singletons cannot solve. Our work aims to unravel the mechanisms underlying collective cognition and to establish its possibilities and limitations.