The evolutionary and comparative approach to the study of natural behavior and its underlying mechanistic control by the nervous system endeavours to understand how the central nervous system translates biologically relevant stimuli into behaviour. This multidisciplinary field, i.e. Neuroethology, is comprised of neurobiology (the study of the nervous system) and ethology (the study of natural behavior). This module will introduce students to the general principles of neuroethology, i.e. the neural base of behaviour and sensory systems.
Topics include: Comparative neurobiology (structure/organisation of nervous systems); biological timekeeping (rhythm generation mechanisms; neural and behavioural rhythms); sensory biology (vision, hearing, taste and smell) ; neural and hormonal control of homeostasis (neuroendocrine system; autonomous nervous system); learning and behaviour (associative learning; cognition; complex natural behaviour).
By the end of the module students should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of different neuroetholigcal model systems ranging from invertebrates to humans.
- Understand about the generation of behaviour by the nervous system and about the principles of sensory coding by the sense organs and the brain.
- Acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding of how the brain controls complex natural behaviour and how the neuroendocrine and autonomous nervous system maintains homeostasis at the whole-organism level.
- Develop an ability to collect, record, handle and interpret scientific data and increased their practical and manipulative laboratory skills.
Exam (60%), Coursework (40%)