Cognitive and Behavioral Biology

Why do humans and animals act the way they act? And why do they think the way they do?

Cognitive and Behavioral scientists study the neuronal, hormonal, and cognitive bases of behavior. The strength of this research derives from a comparative approach encompassing numerous model organisms and a variety of research approaches that study questions ranging from the development and function of neuronal circuits to animal behavior in social groups.

Cognitive and behavioral research aims to investigate the interplay between genetic, physiological, and environmental factors that significantly influence the behavior and cognition of animals and the evolution of behavior. This includes examining the cellular processes that lead to neuronal circuits' development and functional information processing – including their plastic modulation – and complex social and behavioral interactions, such as cooperation, communication, and coping with stress.

A key characteristic of the Department of Behavioral & Cognitive Biology is its close link to unique field stations in Austria.

The Konrad-Lorenz-Forschungsstelle (KLF) was founded by Nobel prize laureate Konrad Lorenz in 1973 and today represents a modern center for animal behavior and cognition. It is located next to the Cumberland Wildpark in the Northern Austrian Alps. It is internationally renowned for its unique long-term studies on free-flying graylag geese, common ravens, and Northern bald ibises. The majority of questions focus on social mechanisms and investigate, for example, how personality, individual stress management, and social careers are related, how individual cognition and group knowledge interact and how behavioral traditions are formed. For more information, see their website.

The Haidlhof Research Station was established in 2009 as a cooperation between the University of Vienna and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. It is located close to Bad Vöslau, Lower Austria, and features an array of large outdoor aviaries and behavioral and acoustic test facilities. The research focuses on the socio-cognitive skills of large-brained birds like corvids (ravens, crows) and parrots (kea) and animal communication and bio-acoustics. For more information, see their website.

The Affenberg Landskron represents a privately run 4-hectare forest park in Carinthia that houses a big group of (semi)-free ranging Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). The University Vienna closely collaborates with the park in respect to scientific research and teaching. The majority of studies focus on behavioral physiology and genetics, exclusively featuring a non-invasive data collection; further questions concern social behavior and cognition. For more information see their website.

Research Groups "Cognitive and Behavioral Biology"

Research Group Institute Topic
Bugnyar Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Social Behaviour, Complex Cognition and Evolution of Mind
Canoine Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences physiology and adaptability of behaviour from an ecological perspective
Fitch Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Cognitive Biology and Animal Communication
Fusani Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Animal Physiology and Ornithology
Ladich Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Acoustic Communication in Fishes
Millesi Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Behavioural Biology of Small Mammals
Schäfer Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Human Behavioral Biology
Schausberger Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Arthropod Behavioral Ecology
Scheiber Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Arctic Barnacle Geese Research
Tebbich Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Conservation, Behaviour and Ecology of Darwin’s finches
Wallner Uni Vienna - Faculty of Life Sciences Behavioral Molecular Biology