Animal Minds: Comparative Neuroanatomy and Animal Behavior

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

What does the world look like through the eyes of a lion? How about a mouse? a fish? or a fly? All animals perceive the world differently, but share the same goal: to survive and reproduce. The main objectives of this course are to provide an introduction to neuroscience, animal behavior, and the link between them. What do the eyes of an animal tell you about how it interacts with the environment? or where it falls in the food chain? We will explore questions such as these by comparing the neuroanatomy, chemical signaling, and social behavior of different species.

This intensive 2-week course will introduce students to comparative neuroanatomy, sensory neuroscience, animal communication, social structure, and survival strategies. We will compare and contrast human and animal behavior and take a look at species-specific biological differences underlying sensory perception. This is an inquiry-based, hands-on course using activities and laboratory assignments to supplement concepts covered by lecture and group discussion. Activities include tissue dissections (cow eye and sheep brain), sensory manipulation demonstrations, a termite behavior experiment with live specimens, and an animal behavior study. We will discuss the scientific process, fundamentals of experimental design, and will focus on how to read, interpret, and analyze primary literature. Students will have the opportunity to practice these skills by reading and discussing research journal articles with their peers. The course will end with a research project challenging students to generate an in-depth profile of a species’ behavior, sensory abilities, survival strategies, and to demonstrate what the world may be like from the animal’s perspective.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Identify basic brain structures and sensory pathways
- Understand how biological differences alter sensory perception
- Differentiate between learned and innate behaviors
- Design experiments to evaluate aspects of animal behavior
- Unpack, interpret, and analyze primary literature
- Recognize and appreciate the open-ended process of scientific research

Prerequisites: There are no required prerequisites, but a background in biology and/or interest in neuroscience and animal behavior is advantageous.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0940
  • Length: 2 weeks
  • Supplemental Fee: $50

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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