BIOL-007 The brain and the evolution of behavior
Offered academic year 2012-2013
The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies and the most remarkable machine known to humans. Receiving information from the environment, the brain mounts responses in the form of motion, perception, and thought. The first half of this course explores the organization and function of the brain, including discussion of the basic principles of the cells which compose the nervous system (neurons and glia), how cells communicate with one another via synapses, and how neural circuits are formed and strengthened. Hypotheses of the neural basis of learning, memory, and motivation will be reviewed. In the second half of the course, the evolution of behavior will be covered. We will focus on specific adaptive problems that organisms face during development and in adult behavior. How have addiction, food preferences, mood, aggression, social learning, tool-use, and navigation evolved? Together, this course will provide a framework to understand the function of the brain and how its output- behavior- evolves.
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