lesson13 - 13 Brainy Brains Key Terms and Concepts o o o o...

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13 Brainy Brains Key Terms and Concepts o Neuroethology o Absolute brain size o Encephalization quotient (EQ) o Modular intelligence o Spatial memory o Hippocampus o Clark’s nutcracker o Paul Broca o Samuel Morton o Gustave le Bon It is easy to get caught up in the multitude of fascinating details involved in the workings of the nervous system, and one could spend a lifetime learning about neural mechanisms and their disorders. But remember that brains develop through the joint action of genes and environments and that the effectiveness of the brain has been evaluated by natural selection in precisely the same way as the effectiveness of any other organ. Neural tissue is expensive to build and operate. A recent estimate is that the human brain is responsible for about 20% of all the person’s energy consumption, which pound-for-pound puts it on a par with the heart in terms of energy expended. Further, roughly 50% of the brain’s energy use comes from the cost of sending action potentials and the synaptic events that are initiated by them. Such an expensive piece of machinery had better have benefits to compensate. And it certainly does. Being able to monitor the environment, to learn from it and make predictions and decisions and then to generate behavior is clearly beneficial. But that is a very superficial analysis of adaptive significance and evolution. In this lesson we will dig a bit deeper to look at various parts of the brain and find out exactly how they help solve the ecological problems confronted by individuals of a particular species. Lesson 13 153
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There have been two complementary approaches taken to the adaptive significance of nervous systems. One of them seeks to understand the neural processes underlying the natural, adaptive behavior of organisms. The second approach is more comparative and seeks to understand species differences in neuroanatomy and physiology by relating features of neural organization to ecological circumstances. Neuroethology Behavior helps adapt organisms to their environments, and because behavior is an outcome of neural processes, it follows that we can gain insights into behavior by examining the underlying neural processes. This field is known as neuroethology and it is a rapidly-growing interface between neurobiology and the behavioral sciences. Neuroethology concerns itself with neural mechanisms of naturally-occurring animal behavior patterns, and with the development, adaptive significance, and evolution of these neural-behavioral systems. Neuroethology differs from other disciplines in the neurosciences that attempt to understand neural mechanisms without relating them to behavior. In this module we will review two case studies in neuroethology to illustrate its methods and objectives. Escape behavior of cockroaches
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lesson13 - 13 Brainy Brains Key Terms and Concepts o o o o...

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