Integrative Behavioural Biology

Rui Oliveira

The group main research interest is the integrative study of social behaviour, which combines the study of proximate causes (gene modules, hormones, neural circuits, cognitive processes) and ultimate effects (evolutionary consequences). In particular, the research group aim to understand how brain and behaviour can be shaped by the social environment and how the cognitive, neural and genetic mechanisms underlying plasticity in the expression of social behaviour have evolved.


Current research questions topics:

  • Evolution of social cognition and of its neuromolecular mechanisms – we aim to understand if social cognition is an organismal performance trait that impacts Darwinian fitness and may itself be subject to selection;
  • Genomic and epigenomic mechanisms of social behaviour – we seek to understand how the same genome can produce different social phenotypes in response to key social cues in the environment;
  • Neuroendocrinology of social behaviour – we aim to understand the role of hormones and neuropeptides (oxytocin/vasotocin) as neuromodulators involved in the plasticity of social behaviour;
  • Fish cognition and welfare – since our model organisms are fish we aim to use our knowledge in this field to improve fish husbandry and handling procedures towards better research and animal welfare.