I'm interested in how and why animals learn to value information, particularly when that information doesn't appear to provide clear benefits. Behavioural experiments have revealed that animals are sometimes willing to sacrifice potential rewards for functionally useless information - a phenomenon that has been referred to as an example of animal curiosity. However, It is not so clear how and why animals learn to select low- pay off alternatives that provide them with information that they cannot use.
I explore preferences for information in animals from a range of taxa using behavioural experiments where animals can chose between informative or uninformative alternatives. I'm particularly interested in testing the idea that information seeking behaviour that results in sub-maximal pay-offs in the lab is adaptive in natural foraging circumstances.
Supervisors: Professor Alex Kacelnik (Department of Zoology), Professor Mark Walton (Experimental Psychology)