Quantitative approaches to behavior

SEP 15, 2017 | 9:30 AM TO 6:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


September 15, 2017: 9:30 AM-6:00 PM




Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences, CUNY doctoral programs in Physics and Biology, CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative


This symposium will take place in Room 9204/5 at the Graduate Center. 

The first thing that fascinates us about life is the macroscopic behavior of organisms. The effort to characterize this behavior quantitatively goes back to the 1800s, in studies of the relationship between physical signals and human perception of these signals, a subject which came to be called “psychophysics.” Progress in this approach depends on simplifying behavior, often reducing it to a choice among a handful of alternatives. In contrast, the etholoigsts developed a rich, qualitative description of more complex behaviors in their natural context. The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in quantitive approaches to these real world behaviors, taming their complexity through more powerful measurements and analyses. This symposium will explore our progress toward a physics of behavior, with examples drawn from many different systems.

Mala Murthy (Princeton University): Dynamic acoustic communication in flies
Ofer Tchernichovski (Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY): Songbirds learn vocal sequences within a rhythmic framework
Greg Stephens (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and OIST): Capturing the continuous complexity of natural behavior in C elegans​
Gonzalo Polavieja (Champalimaud Institute): Understanding the world collectively​

Download the symposium flyer here.