NEW Max Planck Department of Collective Behaviour!

Please visit our new Department Website.

Overview of research in the CouzinLab

Animal groups such as bird flocks, fish schools and insect swarms frequently exhibit complex and coordinated behaviors that result from social interactions among individuals. A fundamental problem in a wide range of biological disciplines is understanding how functional complexity at a macroscopic scale (such as the functioning of a biological tissue) results from the actions and interactions among the individual components (such as the cells forming the tissue). Since they can be readily observed and manipulated animal groups present unrivaled opportunities to link the behavior of individuals with the functioning and efficiency of the dynamic group-level properties. The CouzinLab is a highly interdisciplinary environment with a closely integrated experimental and theoretical research program to elucidate the fundamental principles that underlie collective behavior across levels of biological organization.

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August 2017

In the news

New Scientist feature by Michael Brooks: Mind Meld: The Genius of Swarm Thinking

WIRED Feature by Ed Yong: The Power of Swarms

CBS News SmartPlanet Q&A with Iain Couzin

The Atlantic “The Science of Staring”

Our new paper on gaze copying in human crowds is available open access from PNAS: link.

Ed Yong, Discover: What are you looking at?

Coverage of some of our locust work – In Mauritania, sunny with a chance of locusts

Our Science paper “Uninformed individuals promote democratic consensus in animal groups” is now available for free download form our publications page!

– Press coverage of this paper:

 – America votes with the fishes

 – Vote for apathy?

 – How ignorance could improve group decisions

 – Disinterested ‘key in democracy’

 – Why a democracy needs uninformed people

 – Uncommitted newbies can foil forceful few

 – Study of fish suggests the value of uninformed voters

 – Minnows reveal power of the ‘uninformed’

 – Less Knowledge, More Power: Uninformed Can Be Vital to Democracy, Study Finds

 – Ist Ignoranz wichtig für die Demokratie?

 – Democracy may depend on the ignorant

 – Can ignorance make a better democracy? In fish it can…

 – A democracy depends on uninformed individuals, maybe

– Iain talk at PopTech 2011:

Iain featured on CNN

Iain Couzin is a 2011 PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellow

– Iain talks on RadioLab (also here):

Iain Couzin and Colin Twomey in The Economist

Iain cited in The New Yorker and Ars Technica