Tecumseh Fitch

Tecumseh Fitch (TF), Dept. of Cognitive Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Unversity of Vienna 
received his PhD in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University, USA. He worked from 1999-2002 as lecturer at the Dept. of Biology/Dept. of Psychology at Harvard University, USA, from 2002-2003 as visiting fellow at the European Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin, Germany, from 2005-2006 as visiting professor at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and from 2003-2008 as reader at the School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, UK. Since 2009 he is full Professor of Evolutionary Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna, Austria where he headed the Department of Cognitive Biology from 2011-2014.

TF is interested in the evolution of cognition and communication, particularly the mechanisms underlying vocal production and complex pattern perception. His bioacoustics research has focussed on the morphological, physiological, and physical mechanisms underlying vocal production in diverse terrestrial vertebrates and on using a detailed understanding of these mechanisms to produce computer-synthesized vocalizations for use in playback experiments. This in turn allows investigation of the evolution of signals from a broad comparative perspective, grounded in mechanisms of production and perception, and to uncover the key acoustic variables that transmit relevant information to particular species.

His research on the evolution of music and language has stressed the value of the comparative approach in detailing the various mechanisms humans use to process complex signals, and to determine which of these are shared with other animals. Current work is focussed on probing the pattern-discovery capabilities of a wide range of vertebrate species in both visual and auditory domains, and testing the hypothesis that hierarchical cognition is a key component of human music and language that is less well-developed, or even absent, in most other species. For more information see the website.