Animal Minds: The Neural Basis of Animal Cognition and Behavior

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 22, 2019 - August 02, 20197/22 - 8/02M-F 12:15P-3:05PWaitlistedMegan Leyrer

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 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. Examples of these activities include tissue dissections (cow eye and sheep brain) and a termite lab where students will design and run an experiment with live specimens. Outside of class, students will conduct a research project to generate an in-depth profile of a species’ behavior and unique anatomical characteristics that assist them in survival. This work will culminate in a final group presentation where students will be challenged to actively describe or demonstrate what the world would be like from another species’ perspective.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Identify basic brain structures and sensory pathways
- Differentiate between learned and innate behaviors
- Compare and contrast human behavior with other animals’ behavior
- Identify anatomical features that provide clues of an animal’s lifestyle
- Understand how biological differences alter sensory perception
- Collect observational and quantitative behavioral data

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

Program Information


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 2019.

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