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ZOOL412 Neurobiology and Behaviour

Examination of neural basis of perception and behaviour in animals. Advantages and limitations of a simple systems approach for studying brain function.

All nervous systems, including ours, have evolved from simpler nervous systems that appeared around 540 million years ago. Therefore, studying simpler nervous systems (e.g. of insects) facilitates our understanding of more complex nervous system (e.g. of humans). We will review classical and modern neuroethological approaches. And students will train their scientific skills by building and analyzing neural networks (no coding experience required) and performing behavioral experiments in insects.

Paper title Neurobiology and Behaviour
Paper code ZOOL412
Subject Zoology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,409.28
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Teaching staff

Dr Paul Szyszka

Dr Bart Geurten

Paper Structure

Taught in small group tutorials. We discuss key publications and learn how to create simple computer models of neural systems. The paper is 100% internally assessed (based on annotated bibliographies, lab book entries, and short reports about the experimental work).

Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Neurobiology and Behaviour students will understand how neurons and neural networks function and how they generate perception and behaviour.
  • Students will gain insight into computational, physiological and behavioural approaches to study nervous system function, animal behaviour and learning.
  • Students will be able to apply critical thinking, scientific rigour and a systematic approach to biological problems, particularly, but not solely, in the area of animal behaviour and its neural basis.

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 13:00-15:50 29-34, 36-41