General Biology Series: Brain and Behavior


In this second semester of General Biology, students will explore the foundations of neuroscience from intracellular communication to higher brain functions and behavior. After learning about how neurons function, including an in-depth review of the major neurotransmitters used for intercellular communication, we will sample a variety of functions of the brain, including sleep, feeding, sex and other motivated behaviors, learning, and memory. Brain anatomy will also be a focus of our work, including the regulation of the brain and the body through regulation of the endocrine system, autonomic nervous system, and even the immune system. We will also explore the evolution of behavior and, using a few key examples, look at how the brains of different animals carry out their specialized functions. Topics may include learning in the honey bee, sound localization in the owl, and echolocation in bats. Weekly labs explore brain anatomy and cellular organization of the brain, including basic histology to prepare brain tissue for examination in the microscope. We will also make use of new recording equipment to test EEG and function of the peripheral nervous system that is activated as the body prepares for action.