Data Skeptic

Claire Hemmingway, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is our guest today. Her research is on decision-making in animal cognition, focusing on neotropical bats and bumblebees.

Claire discussed how bumblebees make foraging decisions and how they communicate when foraging. She discussed how they set up experiments in the lab to address questions about bumblebees foraging. She also discussed some nuances between bees in the lab and those in the wild.

Claire discussed factors that drive an animal's foraging decisions. She explained the foraging theory and how a colony works together to optimize its foraging. She also touched on some irrational foraging behaviors she observed in her study.

Claire discussed some techniques bees use to learn from past behaviors. She discussed the effect of climate change on foraging bees' learning behavior.

Claire discussed how bats respond to calling frogs when foraging. She also spoke about choice overload in that they make detrimental decisions when loaded with too many options.

Direct download: optimal-foraging.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm PDT

On today’s show, we are joined by our co-host, Becky Hansis-O’Neil. Becky is a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, St Louis, where she studies bumblebees and tarantulas to understand their learning and cognitive work.


She joins us to discuss the paper: Perception in Chess. The paper aimed to understand how chess players perceive the positions of chess pieces on a chess board. She discussed the findings paper. She spoke about situations where grandmasters had better recall of chess positions than beginners and situations where they did not.


Becky and Kyle discussed the use of chess engines for cheating. They also discussed how chess players use chunking. Becky discussed some approaches to studying chess cognition, including eye tracking, EEG, and MRI. 

## Paper in Focus

Perception in chess

## Resources

Detecting Cheating in Chess with Ken Regan

Direct download: memory-and-chess.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am PDT

On this episode, we are joined by Stephen Larson, the CEO of MetaCell and an affiliate of the OpenWorm foundation. Stephen discussed what the Openworm project is about. They hope to use a digital C. elegans nematode (C. elegans for short) to study the basics of life.

Stephen discussed why C. elegans is an ideal organism for studying life in the lab. He also discussed the steps involved in simulating a digital organism. He mentioned the constraints on the cellular scale that informed their development of a digital C. elegans.

Stephen discussed the validation process of the simulation. He discussed how they discovered the best parameters to capture the behavior of natural C. elegans. He also discussed how biologists embraced the project.

Stephen discussed the computational requirements for improving the simulation parameters of the model and the kind of data they require to scale up. Stephen discussed some findings that the machine-learning communities can take away from the project. He also mentioned how students can get involved in the Openworm project. Rounding up, he shared future plans for the project.

Direct download: openworm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:38pm PDT