Department Seminar of Prof. Nir Gov - "The geometry of decision-making in collectives and individuals"

19 April 2023, 14:00 - 15:00 
פקולטה להנדסה 
Department Seminar of Prof. Nir Gov - "The geometry of decision-making in collectives and individuals"


School of Mechanical Engineering Seminar
Wednesday April 19.4.2023 at 14:00

Wolfson Building of Mechanical Engineering, Room 206

"The geometry of decision-making in collectives and individuals"

Prof. Nir Gov

Department of Chemical and Biological Physics

Weizmann Institute of Science

Rehovot, Israel


Choosing among spatially distributed options is a central challenge for animals, from deciding among alternative potential food sources or refuges to choosing with whom to associate. We present a spin-based model that describes the decision-making process while the animal is moving through space and assessing the different options. Using an integrated theoretical and experimental approach (employing immersive virtual reality), we test the predicted interplay between movement and vectorial integration during decision-making regarding two, or more, options in space.  The theoretical model reveals the occurrence of spontaneous and abrupt “critical” transitions, whereby organisms spontaneously switch from averaging vectorial information to suddenly excluding one among, the remaining options. Experiments with fruit flies, desert locusts, and larval zebrafish reveal that they exhibit these same bifurcations, demonstrating that across taxa there exist fundamental geometric principles that determine how, and why, animals move the way they do.


Short bio:

Phd in theoretical physics at the Technion (low-temperature quantum mechanics) 1998

Postdoc at the U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, QM

Postdoc in Weizmann, Bio-phys.

PI in weizmann since 2004

My research team and I have been developing theoretical models for various phenomena in biology that involve many interacting units, from the collective migration of cells within a body to collective motion of animals within a group. In addition we study the dynamics of cell shapes, cell migration and general non-equilibrium physics.


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