Prof. David Eilam

Emeritus in School of Zoology
ביה"ס לזואולוגיה אמריטוס
Prof. David Eilam
Office: Bessner Building For Zoological Research, 215

Research Interests

We study the behavior of animals and humans. Our research is based on videotaping behavior in various contexts ranging from animals learning unfamiliar environments or confronting a predator, to humans performing sport or ethnic rituals. Videoclips undergo sophisticated fine-grained analysis (which is the expertise of our lab). Current projects are:

  • Ritualized behavior: From animal stereotypies to rituals in sports, in culture, and in patients with mental disorders
    (e.g. - OCD); The relevance of Memetics.
  • Collective behavior: Social and hormonal factors.
  • Spatial Cognition: Network analysis of cognitive mapping.
  • Spatial cognition: The impact of social environment and the formation of groups.


Selected Publications

Ritualized behavior

Eilam, D.  The cognitive roles of behavioral variability: Idiosyncratic acts as the foundation of identity and as transitional, preparatory, and confirmatory phases. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2014, 49 (2015) 55–70.



Zor, R., Keren, H., Hermesh, H., Szechtman, H., Mort, J. and Eilam, D. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): A disorder of pessimal (non-functional) motor behavior. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 180 (2009): 288-298.



Eilam, D., Zor, R., Fineberg, N. and Hermesh, H. Animal behavior as a conceptual framework for the study of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Behavioural Brain Research, 231 (2012) 289-296.



Spatial cognition

Eilam, D. Of mice and men: Building blocks in cognitive mapping. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 47, (2014) 393-409.



Weiss S., Yaski O., Eilam D., Portugali J. and Blumenfeld-Lieberthal E. Network analysis of rat spatial cognition: establishing behavioral symmetry in a physically asymmetrical environment. PLoS ONE, 7 (2012) e40760 (12p).



Weiss, O., Segev, E., Eilam, D. Shall two walk together except they be agreed? Spatial behavior in rat dyads. Animal Cognition. 18 (2015) 39-51.



Yaski, O. Portugali, J. and Eilam, D. City rats: from rat behavior to human spatial cognition in urban environments. Animal Cognition, 14 (2011): 655-663.



Collective behavior

Eilam, D., Izhar, R., and Mort, J. Threat detection: Behavioral consequences in animals and humans. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews; 35 (2011): 999-1006.



Kleiman, M., Bodek, S. and Eilam, D. Who are the bosses? Group influence on the behavior of voles following owl attack. Behavioral Processes, 108 (2014) 183–190



Keren, H., Fux, M., Mort, J., Lawson, E.T. and Eilam, D. Are motor collective rituals as rigid as they seem? A test case of a Zulu wedding dance. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13 (2013) 17–32.



Other representative

Fux M, Eilam D. How barnowls ( Tyto alba ) visually follow moving voles ( Microtus socialis ) before attacking them. Physiology & Behavior 98, 359-366 (2009).



Miller M, and Eilam D. Decision-making at a crossroad: Straight ahead for simplicity, retracing a path to memorize it, or turning sideways at a constant rate. Animal Cognition; 14 (2011): 11-20.



Shifferman, E., and Eilam, D. Movement and direction of movement of a simulated prey affect the success rate in barn owl Tyto alba attack. Journal of Avian Biology, 35 (2004): 111-116,

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