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CBEN 2022: Evolution of information transmission

Theme: Evolution of information transmission

Origins and history of adaptations and innovation for the transmission of information, their functions, and mechanisms.

DATE: 6-7 October 2022

PLACE: Pieter de la Court building (Leiden, Netherlands)

For this year’s CBEN meeting, we invite everyone to Leiden, the European City of Science 2022. We would like this to be a meeting where scholars from a broad range of disciplines can learn from each other about the many ways in which information is transmitted across agents.

Transmission of information can be very specific as in human language, but it can also be understood more broadly as ritualized interactions (mate competition, mate signaling, etc.), or any specialized ways in which agents interact with or influence each other. Such a comprehensive definition is intended to create a space for the exchange of ideas between fundamental and applied researchers.

The evolution of human perception is heavily influenced by the interdependence that characterizes our species. The importance of conspecific interaction is such that our anatomy has evolved to facilitate it. A good example of this trade-off between individual and inclusive fitness is the pharynx – the adaptive value of speech must outweigh the choking risk of ingesting and breathing through the same cavity. But this is far from the only adaptation – eyes, lips, our hands or auditory system…, they are all adapted for communication, sometimes to the apparent detriment of more basal functions.

Humans seem especially adept at conspecific communication but we are not the only ones whose bodies reflect the importance of communication to our species. Flight feathers may adapt to facilitate signals relating to health or fecundity; teeth can grow to fend off competitors rather than for mastication; apart from aiding with locomotion, tails may also inform others about the mood of their bearers…

Over thousands of years, we have exploited our own sensory apparati to expand the ways in which we communicate with each other – writing and reading, for example, tap into the cognitive abilities that evolved for face-to-face conversation. The advent of computer-mediated communication has resulted in an explosion of modes of communication – from instant messaging to video conferences – that also rely on our socially-oriented senses. CBEN2022 brings together fundamental and applied research on information transmission to foster an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas where someone’s mystery could be someone else’s Eureka moment.

Plenary speakers

Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas (Animal-Computer Interaction, University of Glasgow)

Bridget Waller (Comparative study of facial expressions, Nottingham Trent University)

Disa Sauter (Communication of emotions, non-verbal expressions, University of Amsterdam)

Edwin van Leeuwen (Influence of culture in great ape social structures, Utrecht University)

Virginia Pallante (Ethology of human conflict resolution, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement)

PROGRAM (coming soon)


Pieter de la Court, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden.


The venue is a 10 minute walk from Leiden Central Train Station, where there are many different options for accommodation. Some are Ibis Leiden Centre, Tulip Inn Leiden Centre, or Golden Tulip Leiden Centre.

Abstract submission

Please submit your abstract (max. 300 words) via this link. The deadline is 30th August 2022. We will send out notifications of our decision on 15 September 2022. Please indicate whether you would like to share your work under the form of a presentation (10 minutes + 5 minutes Q&A) or as a poster. We aim for an offline meeting, but if necessary we will change to a hybrid or online format.


You can register at early bird fees until August 20th, or enjoy discounted fees if you’re a member. To register, please follow this link. The final deadline for registration is September 25th.


For more information, please contact the organizers at

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