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Using a model of collective learning to understand how individual learning affects consensus group decisions.

Animal groups, such as the starling murmuration (Sturnus vulgaris) shown here, must frequently make consensus decisions. These collective decisions may be based on various environmental cues that individuals in the group observe, and these individual opinions must be integrated into a collective decision through movement dynamics. Associative learning, which is ubiquitous across animal taxa, can alter the degree to which group members rely on particular cues. The learned behavior can differ dramatically when learning within a group context compared to learning in isolation, which can lead to substantially enhanced collective wisdom. See Kao et al.

Image Credit: Albert Kao