Collective Behaviour - Fall Seminar Series 2020

Communication and Collective Behavior in Non-human and Human Social Groups

Lisa O'Brian, Rice University

Lisa O'Bryan is a Junior Fellow at Rice University in the USA. Her research focuses on the role communication plays in the structure and function of social groups (both animal and human) and also how the dynamics of these groups and their broader environment affect communication patterns. 

In order to obtain social benefits, individuals must remain cohesive, coordinate their behavior, and collectively process information. In many circumstances, communication may be critical to achieving these outcomes since signals can function by advertising location, expressing motivational state and sharing information. My research focuses on how vocal communication both influences, and is influenced by, individual and group-wide properties, with the aim of better understanding the mechanisms underlying the successful (and unsuccessful) functioning of social groups. I study this topic using technology to obtain detailed, time-varying measurements of individual behaviors and interactions in both non-human and human social groups. In this talk I will review my work using wearable dataloggers to study how vocalizations influence the collective movements of domesticated herds and wild baboons. I will also discuss current studies focused on the role conversational turn-taking plays in the decision-making and collective intelligence of human teams. The long-term goal of my research program is to gain new insights into the function and evolution of communication systems involved in the mediation of collective behaviors and how we can engineer communication systems within our own societies to produce more favorable group-wide outcomes.

Datum: 2021-02-01