I completed my BA in Neurobiology and Mind, Brain, and Behaviour at Harvard University in 2013, but was drawn towards animal behaviour and learning after working on a research project on the common octopus. Fascinated by the cognitive abilities of non-mammalian brains, I decided to work with birds, and came to Oxford for a DPhil on visual learning and behaviour in pigeons, New Caledonian crows, and ducklings, which I finished in 2016.
My current focus involves characterising the information content of learned information, using mallard ducklings as a model. Animals need to gather, store, and recall huge amounts of information, and need to do so in a flexible way: a duckling could never identify his mother if he only remembers her from one perspective. My recent work has shown that ducklings can form abstract representations of learned information, allowing them to identify those abstract characteristics in novel situations. I’m hoping to deepen our understanding of how animals build these abstract representations, and how pervasive these abilities are across a wide variety of taxa.
Martinho, A. & Kacelnik, A. (2016, July 14). Ducklings imprint on the relational concept of “same or different”. Science 353 (6296, p. 286-288) (doi: 10.1126/science.aaf4247)
Martinho, A., Biro, D., Guilford, T., Gagliardo, A., & Kacelnik, A. (2015, October). Asymmetric visual input and route recapitulation in homing pigeons. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 282, No. 1816, p. 20151957). The Royal Society.
Martinho, A., Burns, Z. T., von Bayern, A. M., & Kacelnik, A. (2014). Monocular Tool Control, Eye Dominance, and Laterality in New Caledonian Crows. Current Biology, 24(24), 2930-2934.