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ZOOL412 Neurobiology and Behaviour

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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 during the Cambrian Explosion 540 million years ago. Studying the evolution and diversity of nervous systems provides a framework for understanding complex modern brains.  We will review the state of the art in comparative evolutionary neurobiology and examine current efforts to understand nervous systems by computer simulation.  How closely do current computer models mimic neurobiology, and what are the prospects that this approach will lead to artificial intelligence in the forseeable future?

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) $1,371.61
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 recent publications and learn how to create simple computer models of neural systems. The paper is 100% internally assessed, based on student presentations, a project proposal and a project dealing with specific topic in evolutionary neurobiology. Students choose their own project topic after an initial series of seminars discussing current ideas and controversies.

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 have a deep understanding of neural systems and how they work
  • They will be aware of the multidisciplinary approaches currently being used to explore animal behaviour and its underlying mechanisms
  • They will have an appreciation of current issues in neurobiology and an understanding of the questions that remain unresolved
  • They 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 Friday 09:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41