Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Vivek Nityananda

Research Associate



Ph.D. Sensory Ecology, Indian Institute of Science

M.Sc. Biological Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences

Previous Positions

Marie Curie Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London

Human Frontiers Science Program Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Minnesota

Grants and Fellowships

2015 Great North Museum Fellowship for Public Engagement

2014 Centre for Behaviour and Evolution Small Grant (with Dr Ronny Rosner and Dr Ghaith Tarawneh)

2012 Centre for Ecology and Evolution Research Grant (with Dr Shakti Lamba)

2011 Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship

2010 Human Frontiers in Science Program Long Term Fellowship

External responsibilities

2014 – present Member of postdoctoral committee at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University

2014 - present Member of the Athena SWAN committee at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University

2012 – 2013 Joint postdoctoral representative, Research Strategy Group, Queen Mary University of London

2012-2013 Joint secretary of the London Evolutionary Research Network, a society for post-graduate students engaged in evolutionary research.

Reviewer for the following journals:

Animal Behaviour, PLoS One, Ethology, Current Science


I am a sensory biologist with a focus on sensory ecology and selective attention. My research is multidisciplinary and combines neuroscience, ecology, evolutionary biology and psychophysics to study animal behaviour. My research often centres on how animals selectively choose stimuli of interest in noisy environments -visual or auditory - and the ecological relevance of their sensory strategies. I use a variety of techniques as part of my research, including behavioural observations, manipulative experiments, neurophysiology and agent-based modelling of neural and evolutionary processes. My work combines diverse approaches to provide a holistic perspective to the understanding of behaviour.

Current projects:

1. Stereo vision in the praying mantis

I'm currently investigating the mechanisms underlying stereo vision in the praying mantis as part of a project funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant to Prof Jenny Read. Praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to have stereo vision. Our project investigates how they compute stereo vision and if their mechanisms of stereo vision are similar to those seen in primates or not. This will shed light on whether and how nervous systems evolve convergent solutions to similar problems. It could also lead to the development of novel mantis-inspired depth perception algorithms. You can read more about the project here:

2. The evolution of self-deception (in collaboration with Dr. Shakti Lamba).

Robert Trivers proposed that self deception could have evolved to facilitate the deception of others if it eliminates signals (e.g. stress) that reveal deception. We are developing an empirical research programme testing this idea in humans and other species. Our first findings are published here:


MMB8043 Comparative Cognition: Information Processing in Humans and Other Animals

Lectures on Concept Formation and Spatial Cognition

Previous lectures: Animal communication, Selective attention, An introduction to Matlab