Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Staff Profile

Dr Theo Robert

Research Associate



PhD in Psychology (Animal Behaviour), University of Exeter: How insects learn about different goal locations: An analysis of learning and return flights of male and worker bumblebees at the nest and at a feeding site.

M.Sc Neuroscience, Behaviour and Cognition, Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse.

M.Sc Biostatistics and Modelling, Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse.

B.Sc Biology of Organisms, Populations and Ecosystems, Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse.

Previous positions:

JSPS Research Fellow, Graduate School of Agriculture, Tamagawa University, Japan.

Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Reasearch in Animal Behavour, University of Exeter, UK.

PhD Researcher, Centre for Reasearch in Animal Behavour, University of Exeter, UK.

Research Assistant, Centre de Recherche sur la Cognition Animale (CNRS), Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse, France.

Reviewer for Journals:

Journal of Exeperimental Biology

Scientific Reports


Journal of Comparative Physiology A


I am currently a member of Dr Vivek Nityananda's lab focusing on the study of attention-like processes in Insects. Indeed, animals are constantly submitted to many sensory stimuli and it is well known that various groups of vertebrates evolved cognitive processes allowing them to filter the relevant information in their environment. Such cognitive mechanisms seem to be critical to perform a multitude of tasks directly related to the animal fitness, such as foraging, avoiding predators or finding mates. Therefore it can be expected that other animal taxa evolved comparable sensory filtering abilities. My research at Newcastle University aims to discover to which extent Insect possess attention-like mechanisms comparable to those of vertebrates.

In addition, I am collaborating with research teams at the University of Exeter, UK and at Tamagawa University, Japan, to study learning flights in Bumblebees. Learning flights are flight paterns observed in Hymenopterans allowing the insects to scan and memorise the visual scene around the location of their nest or a food source. Although these flight patterns are composed of stereotypical manoeuvers, the length of these learning flights and even their absolute expression vary depending on multiple contextual factors. I am therefore interested in the mechanisms underlying the flexible expression of the learning flight behaviour in various contexts.


Teaching the Spatial Cognition/Navigation lecture for the Comparative Cognition: Information Processing in Humans and Other Animals module (MMB8043).