Dr. Alice Auersperg

The mechanisms of technical problem solving in juvenile Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffini).
FWF Project No. J 3404-B19

Goffin Lab


Arafat Angulo-Perkins, PhD

Funded by: CONACyT  CVU:233109


I am currently researching the evolution of human musicality. Drumming is an universal human behavior and it is considered one of the components of human musicality, involving the production of structured communicative sounds generated by striking objects (or other body parts) with limbs, and it has its own underlying neural mechanisms and evolutionary history. By investigating drumming behavior in our nearest primate relatives such as gorillas and chimpanzees, I am trying to identify, from a comparative perspective, some of the mechanisms underlying the human propensity to generate communicative percussive sounds.

During my PhD in Neuroscience, I worked with music and speech perception using different MRI techniques in humans (musicians and non-musicians), investigating the neural substrates involved in music processing in comparison with those involved in speech perception, and whether musical experience modulates the response of cortical regions involved in music processing. Previously, I studied a MSc in Neurobiology working with synaptic plasticity, spatial exploration and memory consolidation in the rat hippocampus.


MMag. Dr. Markus Böckle


Markus Böckle studied biology at the Karl-Franzens-University (Innsbruck, Austria) and University of Vienna in (Vienna, Austria) as well as philosophy at the Inernational Acadamy of Philosophy (Liechtenstein) and University of Vienna in (Vienna, Austria). His main interests are acoustic and visual communication in anurans and common ravens as well as cognitive mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders. He is working as post-doctoral researcher at the Danube University Krems (Krems, Austria).



Dr. Christian Herbst

Christian T. Herbst is an Austrian voice scientist. He studied voice pedagogy at Mozarteum University, Salzburg, Austria, and worked for several years as a voice pedagogue. Christian was a visiting researcher at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford University, and received his PhD in Biophysics from the University of Olomouc, Czech Republic. Following a position as head of the Bioacoustics Laboratory, Department of Cognitive Biology, University Vienna, Christian now works as post-doctoral researcher at the Voice Research Lab, Department of Biophysics, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic. The focus of Christian’s scientific work is both on singing voice physiology, and on the physics of voice production in mammals. He received several international scientific awards, and has published, among others, in the prestigious Science journal.



Dr. Walter Lechner

Independent Researcher funded by: FWF Project P-26397 (Bioakustik von Amazonasfischen)



“I am interested in fishes in general and catfishes in particular; my studies on hearing, sound production, communication, systematics, morphology, anatomy, and behaviour aim to contribute to a better understanding of acoustic sceneries and fish communities in fresh- and saltwater habitats. Furthermore, I intend to show the effects of underwater noise pollution on residents from freshwater habitats and thus to emphasize the importance of bioacoustics also for conservation plans.”






Jorg Massen

FWF-Stand-alone-Project P26806: “The evolution of pro-social concern”

PRIMOCID-EUPRIM-Net RII3-026155: “‘Pro-social behavior as a sexual strategy in long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis)’

FWF-Lise Meitner-Project M1351: "Cooperation, collaborators and cognition in ravens"

Andrius Pasukonis, PhD

Frog Lab


I am interested in comparative study of learning mechanisms, spatial behavior and acoustic communication. My main research model is Allobates femoralis, a small territorial poison-dart frog (Dendrobatidae) from South America. Allobates femoralis exhibits some of the most complex spatial behaviors among amphibians such territoriality and long distance tadpole transport. I'm using translocation experiments, telemetry and extensive field observations to understand the spatial learning and other orientation mechanism involved in these movements. In addition, we're designing experiments on behavioral flexibility under controlled laboratory conditions at the University of Vienna.

Mag. Iris Starnberger, PhD


Undeniably, acoustic signals are the predominant mode of communication in frogs and toads. However, additional or alternative signal modalities have gained increasing attention. My current research aims to investigate the function of the colourfull patch found on the throats of male reed frogs (Hyperolius spp.). So far, I could show, that the patch is a gland producing volatile species-specific scent bouquets. Furthermore, the coloration of vocal sac and gular patch might be species specific and may serve as a visual signal component in calling males. Thus, I am now studying the possible of integration of acoustic, visual and chemical cues in species recognition and mate choice. 

I integrate histology, biochemical analysis, spectrophotometry and behavioural experiments in the field (Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda) and in the lab in Vienna to investigate signal modalities and their role in intra- and intersexual communication. 

Jinook Oh, PhD


Supervisor: W.T. Fitch

I have worked as an experimental software/hardware developer in CogBio department since 2011 and my academic output has been also focused on conducting behavioural experiments with animal subjects, using open-source electronic tools, in order to increase efficiency, data quality and quantity, and to decrease human cues/biases, financial cost and time.
My current biological interests are on individual (functional) interactions in a biological system while it shows adaptability in continuously changing environment.


Dr. Christine Schwab

WWTF-Project CS11-008: “Modelling social transmission: how relationships, group size and group structure influence social learning in wild and captive corvids”


Christine Schwab received her first master in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Vienna in 1998. She received her second master in Biological Sciences from the University of Vienna in 2004. Her PhD in 2008 earned her the Laudimaxima-award. After few months as a visiting scientist in Strasbourg she subsequently held a post-doc fellowship at the KLI for Evolution and Cognition Research.

She was awarded with a WWTF grant following the cognitive sciences call 2011 which allowed her to continue her research on social learning in corvids and which was a cooperation with the University of St.Andrews.

The main focus of her research is on social learning in animals. Her last project allowed her to combine her two academic trainings insofar that she was investigating patterns of information / behavior transmission in groups of corvids using a social network approach to determine which individual traits as well as which social relations between individuals mainly influence this process. Her research is characterized by a combination of behavioral observations and experiments applied to wild and captive groups of birds.

Recently she expanded her interest to keas, another promising model candidate for a cognitively sophisticated socially living avian species by accepting a university assistant position at the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

Dr. Bruno Gingras

ERC-Grant SOMACCA: Musical syntax and biomusicology



After completing a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and a M.Sc. in Molecular Biology at Université de Montréal (Canada), I turned to music theory, graduating with a Ph.D. from McGill University (Canada) in 2008. The topic of my dissertation was the study of expressive strategies and performer-listener communication in organ performance. From 2008 to 2010, I pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Goldsmiths (London, United Kingdom) where I continued my research on communication in music performance. My research interests include biomusicology, music performance, and the perception of musical structure.

Research projects: My research projects are centered around two main axes:

1) Musical syntax, specifically the perception of large-scale tonal structure in Western tonal music (in collaboration with Prof. Gerhard Widmer).

2) Comparing the relationship between phylogenic proximity and acoustic similarity in the vocalizations of species exhibiting vocal learning, such as songbirds (oscines), and species that do not exhibit vocal learning, such as anurans

Stephan A. Reber, PhD


I am interested in animal communication systems, and specifically in the cognitive capacities of receivers to extract information that goes beyond the perception of the signaling context. After a master thesis on meerkats’ social cognition, my current research focuses on the evolution of vocal communication in the Archosauria. I am investigating the potential of honest acoustic signals in American and Chinese alligators (Alligator mississippiensis/sinensis), as well as the abilities of common ravens (Corvus corax) to perceive syntactical changes in the structure of vocal duets. Research on these extant Archosaurians may even provide insight into the communication of extinct dinosaurs.



Isabelle Laumer, PhD


I have broad interests within the field of animal cognition, with a focus on tool-use behaviour and decision-making. In the course of my master thesis I studied impulse control using the food exchange paradigm in Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana). Thereafter I received a Uni:docs fellowship to perform doctoral studies under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Bugnyar at the Department of Cognitive Biology. My current research aims lie in investigating the cognitive abilities underlying tool-related problem solving and tool innovation in Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) and orangutans (Pongo abelii). 

Matthias-Claudio Loretto, PhD

Personal Page (MPI)


Google Scholar


Dr. Eva Ringler



Femoralis Project - project leader

Personal page

Max Ringler, PhD


Femoralis Project - project co-leader



Gesche Westphal-Fitch, PhD



My research focusses on the perceptual and productive processes underlying visual patterns as well as the roots of human aesthetics and creativity. I recently completed my PhD ("Comparative Studies in Visual Pattern Processing", supervised by Prof. Ludwig Huber), and am currently conducting experiments to explore to the symmetry and complexity of geometric patterns created by participants in the lab. A second research interest of mine is the relation between parsing visual and auditory structures within the frameworks of formal language theory and artificial grammar learning.