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ONLINE: Barbara Webb (Edinburgh): “Representations and the insect brain”

19 May 2020, 12:00 pm1:30 pm

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Due to the current COVID-19 situation this event will now take place online via Zoom. 

Everyone is welcome to join using a computer with access to the internet and Zoom. To take part just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

Abstract: Neuron-level explanations of insect sensorimotor control have been used in the past as exemplars of how non representational accounts of (simple) cognitive behaviours are possible. More recently, we have unravelled the brain circuit that underlies a more complex insect behaviour – their ability to use path integration during convoluted excursions to maintain a ‘home vector’ that indicates the distance and direction of a nest with which they have lost any direct sensory contact. The ‘home vector’ appears to fit many criteria for being called a ‘mental representation’, e.g., the information it contains can be used flexibly in sophisticated navigational decisions, and even communicated between nest-mates in the ‘bee dance’. What insights into the explanatory role of representation can be gained when we have a cognitive model that can be fully mapped to individual identified neurons and their connections in the insect brain?


Barbara Webb is Professor of Biorobotics at the University of Edinburgh, her main research interest is in perceptual systems for the control of behaviour, through building computational and physical (robot) models of the hypothesised mechanisms.


19 May 2020
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Online via Zoom